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Pieter Bruegel (also Brueghel or Breughel) the Elder (/ˈbrɔɪɡəl/,[2][3][4] also US: /ˈbrɡəl/;[5][6] Dutch: [ˈpitər ˈbrøːɣəl] (About this soundlisten); c. 1525–1530 – 9 September 1569) was the most significant artist of Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting, a painter and printmaker, known for his landscapes and peasant scenes (so-called genre painting); he was a pioneer in making both types of subject the focus in large paintings.

He was a formative influence on Dutch Golden Age painting and later painting in general in his innovative choices of subject matter, as one of the first generation of artists to grow up when religious subjects had ceased to be the natural subject matter of painting. He also painted no portraits, the other mainstay of Netherlandish art. After his training and travels to Italy, he returned in 1555 to settle in Antwerp, where he worked mainly as a prolific designer of prints for the leading publisher of the day. Only towards the end of the decade did he switch to make painting his main medium, and all his famous paintings come from the following period of little more than a decade before his early death, when he was probably in his early forties, and at the height of his powers.

As well as looking forwards, his art reinvigorates medieval subjects such as marginal drolleries of ordinary life in illuminated manuscripts, and the calendar scenes of agricultural labours set in landscape backgrounds, and puts these on a much larger scale than before, and in the expensive medium of oil painting. He does the same with the fantastic and anarchic world developed in Renaissance prints and book illustrations.[7]

He is sometimes referred to as "Peasant Bruegel", to distinguish him from the many later painters in his family, including his son /ˈbrɔɪɡəl/,[2][3][4] also US: /ˈbrɡəl/;[5][6] Dutch: [ˈpitər ˈbrøːɣəl] (About this soundlisten); c. 1525–1530 – 9 September 1569) was the most significant artist of Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting, a painter and printmaker, known for his landscapes and peasant scenes (so-called genre painting); he was a pioneer in making both types of subject the focus in large paintings.

He was a formative influence on Dutch Golden Age painting and later painting in general in his innovative choices of subject matter, as one of the first generation of artists to grow up when religious subjects had ceased to be the natural subject matter of painting. He also painted no portraits, the other mainstay of Netherlandish art. After his training and travels to Italy, he returned in 1555 to settle in Antwerp, where he worked mainly as a prolific designer of prints for the leading publisher of the day. Only towards the end of the decade did he switch to make painting his main medium, and all his famous paintings come from the following period of little more than a decade before his early death, when he was probably in his early forties, and at the height of his powers.

As well as looking forwards, his art reinvigorates medieval subjects such as marginal drolleries of ordinary life in illuminated manuscripts, and the calendar scenes of agricultural labours set in landscape backgrounds, and puts these on a much larger scale than before, and in the expensive medium of oil painting. He does the same with the fantastic and anarchic world developed in Renaissance prints and book illustrations.[7]

He is sometimes referred to as "Peasant Bruegel", to distinguish him from the many later painters in his family, including his son Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564–1638). From 1559, he dropped the 'h' from his name and signed his paintings as Bruegel; his relatives continued to use "Brueghel" or "Breughel".

Selected works

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, now thought only to survive in copies, is the subject of the 1938 poem "Musée des Beaux Arts" by W. H. Auden:

In Brueghel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

It also was the subject of a 1960 poem by William Carlos Williams and was referenced in Nicolas Roeg's 1976 science fiction film The Man Who Fell to Earth. Further, Williams' final collection of poetry references a number of Bruegel's work.

Two Monkeys, 1562, oil on panel

Bruegel's painting Two Monkeys was the subject of Wisława Szymborska's 1957 poem, "Brueghel's Two Monkeys".[60]

Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky referenced Bruegel's paintings in his films several times, notably in Solaris (1972) and The Mirror (1975).

Director Lars von Trier also uses Bruegel's paintings in his film Melancholia (2011). This was used as a reference to Tarkovsky's Solaris, a movie with related themes.

His 1564 painting The Procession to Calvary inspired the 2011 Polish-Swedish film co-production The Mill and the Cross, in which Bruegel is played by Rutger Hauer. Bruegel's paintings in the Kunsthistorisches Museum are shown in the 2012 film, Museum Hours, where his work is discussed at length by a guide.

Seamus Heaney referenced Brueghel in his poem "The Seed Cutters".[61] David Jones references the painting The Blind Leading the Blind in his World War One prose-poem In Parenthesis: "the stumbling dark of the blind, that Breughel knew about - ditch circumscribed".

Michael Frayn, in his novel Headlong, imagines a lost panel from the 1565 Months series resurfacing unrecognized, which triggers a mad conflict between an art (and money) lover and the boor who possesses it. Much thought is spent on Bruegel's secret motives for painting it.

In his book American Barricade, Danniel Schoonebeek references several Brueghel paintings in his poem "Poem for a Seven-Hour Flight", notably in the lines: "I am the hounds in Brueghel / do you know the hounds // here is the single fox I have killed will you wear it around your shoulders are you ashamed."

Author Don Delillo references Bruegel's painting The Triumph of Death in his novel Underworld and his short story "Pafko at the Wall". It is believed that the painting The Hunters in the Snow influenced the classic short story with the same title written by Tobias Wolff and featured in In the Garden of the North American Martyrs.

In the foreword to his novel The Folly of the World, author Jesse Bullington explains that Bruegel's painting Netherlandish Proverbs not only inspired the title but also the plot to some extent. Various sections are introduced with a proverb depicted in the painting that alludes to a plot element.

Poet Sylvia Plath references Bruegel's painting The Triumph of Death in her poem "Two Views of a Cadaver Room" from her collection 'The Colossus and Other Poems.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Orenstein, 63–64
  2. ^ "Bruegel". Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia.
  3. ^ "Brueghel". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  4. ^ "Bruegel". Lexico UK Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  5. ^ "Brueghel". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  6. ^ "Brueghel". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  7. ^ Gombrich, 295; Clark, 41–43, 27, 33, 57, also covering Gothic aspects of Bruegel's style
  8. ^ Grove; van Mander's Bruegel biography in Dutch; Wied, 15–18 gives a full English translation. Guicciardini was an Italian who had lived in Antwerp since at least 1542, and probably knew Bruegel, which Van Mander, born in 1648 on the other side of Flanders, is most unlikely to have done.
  9. ^ "den welcken is geboren niet wijt van Breda, op een Dorp geheeten Brueghel, welcks naem hy met hem ghedraghen heeft, en zijn naecomelinghen ghelaten."
  10. ^ Grove: "none of the three Flemish villages of that name is close to Breda".; Wied, 18, says two of the villages (Groot Bruegel and Cleyn Bruegel) are close to Bree, Belgium, which is "Breda" in Latin, perhaps causing Van Mander confusion. Son en Breugel still has supporters but is 34 miles from Breda, though just outside Eindhoven – see RKD.
  11. ^ a b Orenstein, 57–58; Grove
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h Grove
  13. ^ Wied, 19–20
  14. ^ Orenstein, 64
  15. ^ Orenstein, 5; Grove
  16. ^ Orenstein, 5
  17. ^ This is according to Van Mander; although there is no documentation and little evident stylistic influence from his future father-in-law, modern scholars generally accept this.
  18. ^ Orenstein, 5, 7
  19. ^ Grove; Orenstein, 204 for the drawing
  20. ^ Orenstein, 5–6; Grove
  21. ^ a b Orenstein, 140–142
  22. ^ Orenstein, 266–267, and following catalogue pages; Grove
  23. ^ Snyder, 502; Orenstein, 96–97 for one agreed exception; see this British Museum page for another drawing of Roman ruins, perhaps the Colosseum, recently attributed to Bruegel
  24. ^ Orenstein, 7
  25. ^ Wied, 9–10
  26. ^ Van Mander, quoted in Wied, 16; Orenstein, 7; Hagens, 15
  27. ^ Grove; Orenstein, 8–9
  28. ^ Foote, Timothy (1968). The World of Bruegel. Library of Congress: Time-Life Library of Art. pp. 18–27.
  29. ^ a b Franits, 203
  30. ^ In Brueghel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
    Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman
    Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
    But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
    As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
    Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
    Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
    Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

It also

It also was the subject of a 1960 poem by William Carlos Williams and was referenced in Nicolas Roeg's 1976 science fiction film The Man Who Fell to Earth. Further, Williams' final collection of poetry references a number of Bruegel's work.

Two Monkeys was the subject of Wisława Szymborska's 1957 poem, "Brueghel's Two Monkeys".[60]

Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky referenced Bruegel's paintings in his films several times, notably in Solaris (1972) and The Mirror (1975).

Director Lars von Trier also uses Bruegel's paintings in his film Melancholia (2011). This was used as a reference to Tarkovsky's Solaris, a movie with related themes.

His 1564 painting The Procession to Calvary inspired the 2011 Polish-Swedish film co-production The Mill and the Cross, in which Bruegel is played by Andrei Tarkovsky referenced Bruegel's paintings in his films several times, notably in Solaris (1972) and The Mirror (1975).

Director Lars von Trier also uses Bruegel's paintings in his film Melancholia (2011). This was used as a reference to Tarkovsky's Solaris, a movie with related themes.

His 1564 painting The Procession to Calvary inspired the 2011 Polish-Swedish film co-production The Mill and the Cross, in which Bruegel is played by Rutger Hauer. Bruegel's paintings in the Kunsthistorisches Museum are shown in the 2012 film, Museum Hours, where his work is discussed at length by a guide.

Seamus Heaney referenced Brueghel in his poem "The Seed Cutters".[61] David Jones references the painting The Blind Leading the Blind in his World War One prose-poem In Parenthesis: "the stumbling dark of the blind, that Breughel knew about - ditch circumscribed".

Michael Frayn, in his novel Headlong, imagines a lost panel from the 1565 Months series resurfacing unrecognized, which triggers a mad conflict between an art (and money) lover and the boor who possesses it. Much thought is spent on Bruegel's secret motives for painting it.

In his book American Barricade, Danniel Schoonebeek references several Brueghel paintings in his poem "Poem for a Seven-Hour Flight", notably in the lines: "I am the hounds in Brueghel / do you know the hounds // here is the single fox I have killed will you wear it around your shoulders are you ashamed."

Author Don Delillo references Bruegel's painting The Triumph of Death in his novel Underworld and his short story "Pafko at the Wall". It is believed that the painting The Hunters in the Snow influenced the classic short story with the same title written by Tobias Wolff and featured in In the Garden of the North American Martyrs.

In the foreword to his novel The Folly of the World, author Jesse Bullington explains that Bruegel's painting Netherlandish Proverbs not only inspired the title but also the plot to some extent. Various sections are introduced with a proverb depicted in the painting that alludes to a plot element.

Poet Sylvia Plath references Bruegel's painting The Triumph of Death in her poem "Two Views of a Cadaver Room" from her collection 'The Colossus and Other Poems.