Pieter Bruegel (Mega Square)
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Pieter Brueghel was the first important member of a family of artists who were active for four generations. Firstly a drawer before becoming a painter later, he painted religious themes, such as Babel Tower, with very bright colours. Influenced by Hieronymus Bosch, he painted large, complex scenes of peasant life and scripture or spiritual allegories, often with crowds of subjects performing a variety of acts, yet his scenes are unified with an informal integrity and often with wit. In his work, he brought a new humanising spirit. Befriending the Humanists, Brueghel composed true philosophical landscapes in the heart of which man accepts passively his fate, caught in the track of time.
cm Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples 150 MS Brueghel 4C.qxp 18/11/2011 1:57 PM Page 151 151 MS Brueghel 4C.qxp 22/11/2011 8:54 AM Page 152 Her profile, sharp as though cut by a hatchet, her small hard eye, and the rictus of her mouth are infused with ferocious alacrity. She hurries forth with long strides, wearing a helmet without a visor and with a breastplate hanging from her shoulders. Under her left arm she holds a disparate plunder: a chest, a bundle, two baskets full of
playful and even excessive Storm at Sea with Shipwrecks Jan Brueghel the Elder, c. 1595-1596 Oil on copper, 25.5 x 34.5 cm Private collection 176 MS Brueghel 4C.qxp 22/11/2011 9:00 AM Page 177 177 MS Brueghel_FRE_A-ok_25 Oct 2011.qxp 15/11/2011 4:41 PM Page 178 good humour, as would be expected in a personality given over to extremes. The steps of Bruegel’s evolution towards serious and purely human subjects had begun ten years before, upon his return from Rome in 1553. His
Graphische Sammlung, Albertina, Vienna 108 MS Brueghel_FRE_A-ok_25 Oct 2011.qxp 15/11/2011 4:09 PM Page 109 109 MS Brueghel_FRE_A-ok_25 Oct 2011.qxp 15/11/2011 4:10 PM Page 110 bohemian existence became untenable to him, so he went to Brussels to marry Mayken Coecke, the daughter of his first master, “the same girl he had held so often in his arms”. More pertinent from the point of view of the correlation between the man and his work are these lines which illuminate the character of
imagine the stubborn Bruegel, quiet and given over to dreaming, with abundant reserves of robust gaiety hidden beneath his silence. When he was under the right influence, his weakness for fantasy brimmed over in an excessive and extravagant manner. The Harvesters (August) 1565 Oil on wood, 119 x 162 cm The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 112 MS Brueghel 4C.qxp 21/11/2011 4:14 PM Page 113 113 MS Brueghel_FRE_A-ok_25 Oct 2011.qxp 15/11/2011 4:14 PM Page 114 He was jovial, had a
bats, while the damned are made to suffer refined and morbidly humorous tortures. The Peasant Dance c. 1568 Oil on wood, 114 x 164 cm Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 134 MS Brueghel_FRE_A-ok_25 Oct 2011.qxp 15/11/2011 4:23 PM Page 135 135 MS Brueghel_FRE_A-ok_25 Oct 2011.qxp 15/11/2011 4:23 PM Page 136 This drawing is a preparation for The Fall of the Rebel Angels painted the following year, the most impressive effort by Bruegel in this genre. The richness of colour is particularly