About the artist:
Pieter Bruegel I (ca. 1525–1569), commonly known as Pieter Bruegel the Elder, was the greatest member of a large and important southern Netherlandish family of artists active for four generations in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. A longtime resident of Antwerp, the center of publishing in the Netherlands and a vibrant commercial capital, Bruegel brought a humanizing spirit to traditional subjects and boldly created new ones. He was an astoundingly inventive painter and draftsman, and, due to the continuity of the family trade and the industry that developed in prints after his works, Bruegel’s impact was widespread and long lasting. Born in or near Breda about 1525, Bruegel settled fairly early in Antwerp, where he became a master in the painters’ Guild of Saint Luke between 1551 and 1552. After a trip to Italy, he began a long-standing association with Hieronymus Cock, whose Antwerp publishing house, At the Four Winds, produced prints on a range of subjects, from parables to landscapes. Between 1555 and 1563, Bruegel made over forty designs for engravings, capitalizing on the strong market demand for images in the style or manner of Hieronymus Bosch (ca. 1450–1516). Bruegel’s Big Fish Eat Little Fish (Albertina, Vienna) was even attributed to Bosch in Cock’s print, though all subsequent engravings were inscribed “Bruegel inventor.” The novel and ingenious way in which Bruegel translated moralizing subjects into vernacular language is most apparent in his original drawings and paintings, such as Netherlandish Proverbs (Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen, Berlin), which depicts over 100 proverbs in the familiar setting of a Flemish village; it became one of the artist’s most popular images—at least sixteen copies of the painting are known. In religious or mythological depictions, such as the Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels), Bruegel expanded the viewers perspective to make the titular action but one part of a startlingly broad vision of the natural and cultivated world.
Pieter Bruegel I (ca. 1525–1569), commonly known as Pieter Bruegel the Elder, was the greatest member of a large and important southern Netherlandish family of artists active for four generations in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. A