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 Pieter Bruegel the Elder



Bruegel Pieter the Elder

(b ?Breda, ?c. 1525–30; d Brussels, 1569).

Painter and draughtsman. Although heir to the early Netherlandish painters, particularly Hieronymous Bosch, Bruegel brought a new humanizing spirit and breadth of vision to the traditional subjects he depicted while creating many new ones. His style and subject-matter were adopted but rarely surpassed by the many artists of the later 16th century and the 17th who were influenced by his work, especially the landscape and genre artists of the northern provinces of the Netherlands. Today, thanks to modern techniques of reproduction, Bruegel’s paintings are immensely popular, while as a draughtsman he is scarcely known except to specialists. Yet in the 16th century and the early 17th it was drawings attributed to him, especially those issued by Hieronymus Cock as engravings, that made him famous as a ‘second Bosch’, a term used by Vasari as early as 1568. Many of the drawings traditionally ascribed to him, however, including some 20 alpine landscapes and village scenes, have now been reattributed to Jacques Savery and Roelandt Savery. It is unclear whether the Saverys made these drawings, which bear ‘signatures’ and dates ranging from 1559 to 1562, as deliberate forgeries or as virtuoso emulations of a famous old master whose work enjoyed a tremendous revival of interest c. 1595–c. 1610.



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