Brueghel the Younger

Netherlands • 1564−1637

Biography and information

The Brueghel family is rightfully considered one of the most prolific in the art world. Several generations of Dutch/Flemish painters from the Brueghel family gave the world true masterpieces of painting. The paintings of Peter Brueghel the Younger are no less famous than his father’s works which initially served as an example for the young artist. However, afterwards Brueghel the Younger managed to create his own unique style and to develop his own easily recognizable technique.

The main characteristic of Peter Brueghel the Younger’s art: at the early stage of his career the artist focused mainly on the Biblical subjects and images of the Last Judgment, but later the master turned to the scenes from peasant life.

Famous paintings by Peter Brueghel the YoungerAdoration of the Magi,  The Good Shepherd, Spring. GardeningSeven Acts of MercyGamblers QuarrellingWinter Landscape with a Bird Trap.

Peter lost his father early, so his grandmother, a famous miniature painter at that time, took up his upbringing and training. Under her guidance the future artist received a professional education. In the early paintings of Peter Brueghel the Younger, the imitation of his famous father was particularly noticeable: the painter spent much time over his father’s sketches, copying his canvases and transferring his engravings and drawings onto the canvases.

For his passion to biblical stories depicting the horrors of hell and the scenes of the Last Judgment, Brueghel received a nickname "de helse Brueghel" or "Hell Brueghel". However, later he abandoned the motives, which had been specific to the artworks of another famous Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch whose paintings decorated the bedroom of the Spanish king and were commissioned by the church. Gradually, the artist’s artistic manner changed: the colors became brighter, and the images became sharper.

Peter Brueghel began to search inspiration for his paintings in the ordinary life of people and the nature of his native country. Despite the fact that the artist himself was a city dweller, he was well acquainted with the customs of the peasants and the peculiarities of rural life. Brueghel's canvases are incredibly interesting and full of details.

Both artists and customers of that time were deeply religious people, therefore, the works of art necessarily contained many symbols referring to the basic religious postulates and concepts of morality, reminiscent of the mortality of earthly life. Moreover, symbolism was present even in those paintings by Peter Brueghel the Younger, where the subjects were far from sublime. Unlike the artist’s early religious works, seemingly straightforward scenes of rural life appealed to the morality of the audience using the “on the contrary” method. The artist depicted entertainments, fights and weddings of the peasants with great warmth, however, in every work you can find a hint of the inadmissibility of a rampant lifestyle.

However, despite the existing artistic norms and rules at that time, not all Brueghel’s masterpieces were exemplary. First of all, those paintings expressed the artist’s love for ordinary residents of his country and enabled the viewer to learn a lot about their daily life.

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