Brueghel the Elder, Jan

jan brueghel d ae

Jan Brueghel was part of an illustrious artistic dynasty started by his father Pieter Brueghel the Elder, the works of which have retained their attraction and fascination to this day. Jan was able to free himself more thoroughly from his father’s influence than his brother Pieter Brueghel the Younger to find his own artistic style.

Jan Brueghel the Elder - A prince among painters

When Jan Brueghel the Elder was born in 1568, his father had already succeeded in raising the rank of Flemish painting to unprecedented new heights. The Brueghel name was already a shining star in the art world’s firmament. Judging by his father’s fame, the young Jan Brueghel was born a prince among painters. However, when his father died shortly after the birth of his youngest son, Jan’s grandmother Maria Bessemers took over the job of educating the boy in the art of painting, first introducing him to miniatures. Beyond this, little is known of his further artistic training, although Karel van Manders records him as having been taught by the renowned Antwerp master Peeter Goetkint.

Early sojourns to Italy

When he was still a young man, Jan Brueghel travelled to Naples, Milan, and Rome, where he made the acquaintance of the Dutch landscape painter Paul Bril. He also worked together with the German draughtsman and painter Johannes Rottenhammer to create numerous romantic landscapes with religious and mythological scenes. When he was in Milan, the young artist’s work caught the attention of Cardinal Frederico Borromeo, who was one of the era’s most prominent supporters of emerging artists. Jan Brueghel the Elder returned to Flanders in 1596 and there was accepted as a “meestersoonen” in the Guild of St. Luke.

Velvet Brueghel and Flower Brueghel

Jan Brueghel the Elder eschewed the use of a specific signature for his works, instead simply using the family name Brueghel. He was given the nicknames “Flower Brueghel” and “Velvet Brueghel” due to his penchant for opulent still lifes and luscious velvet. But Brueghel was more than just a flower painter; and the wide variety of his motifs astounds us to this day. With his generous use of brightly coloured detail,s Brueghel created lively documents of his age and elevated European landscape painting to a new level. Throughout his career he entered into numerous fruitful collaborations with other great artists of his time. In the course of one such collaboration he met and befriended Peter Paul Rubens, and together the two painters carried out numerous commissions for the Arch Ducal couple Albrecht and Isabella of Austria. This in turn brought him many privileges which practically raised him to the status of court painter.

Two Marriages and an Untimely Death

Jan Brueghel the Elder married twice, and both marriages resulted in ten children. One of his sons, Jan Brueghel the Youger, was to go down in history for continuing the great painting tradition of the Brueghel family. Jan Brueghel’s glittering career came to an unexpectedly dark end: On 13th January 1625 he died of cholera in his home town of Antwerp, and his three children Pieter, Elisabeth, and Maria shared this fate within the month.

Interest in Jan Brueghel the Elder’s considerable artistic legacy has remained high to this day, and his paintings are regularly exhibited. The Alte Pinakothek in Munich honoured the artist with a highly successful exhibition in the year 2013.

Jan Brueghel the Elder Prices

Artist Artwork Price
Jan Brueghel the Elder River Landscape with Fishers and a Cart €1.456.000

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