Art e Dossier


Art History

Pieter Bruegel: biography

There is very little documentary information about Pieter Bruegel, not even his exact birth date – perhaps 1526 – or his training have been ascertained. According to Van Mander he had been a pupil of Pieter Coecke in Brussels. Coecke was an educated artist who had traveled to Italy and Turkey, he worked as a painter and tapestry designer, architect and translator of Vitruvius and Serlius. The first certain date in Bruegel’s life is 1551 when he was registered in the guild of St. Luke in Antwerp under the name «Peeter Brueghels». The following year he made a trip to France and Italy as we can see from some drawings of various places on the peninsula. Landscapes were the primary theme of his early works that can be definitely attributed, such as the Parabola of the Sower, the first painting that is signed and dated (1557). That same year Bruegel made the series of copper engravings of the Seven Deadly Sins. The painting, Children Playing was done in 1560. Although there is no confirmation, it is quite likely that in 1562 the artist traveled to Amsterdam and to Besançon. In the summer of 1563 he married Mayeken Coecke, the daughter of the artist presumed to be his teacher. One of Bruegel’s most famous paintings dates from the year of his marriage, The Tower of Babel. Their first child, Pieter – who also became a painter – was born in 1564. To distinguish him from his father the critics called him Pieter Bruegel the Younger. Between 1565 and 1568 he painted some of his most renowned works: the series dedicated to the Months, The Land of Plenty and The Peasant Wedding. His second son, Jean known as “dei Velluti,” was born in 1568. Pieter Bruegel the Elder died the following year and was buried in the church of Notre-Dame de la Chapelle.

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