As scion of the world-famous Brueghel painting dynasty, the career of Pieter Brueghel the Younger stood from the beginning under a special star. Although he hardly knew his father, the great painter Pieter Brueghel the Elder, in terms of his artistic development he oriented himself closely on this model and created many of his own compositions as well as reworkings of his father’s works.(...) Continue reading
Pieter Brueghel the Younger – Near and far to his father
Pieter Brueghel the Younger was born in Brussels between 23 May and 10 October 1564. At the tender age of five he experienced the death of his father who was thus unable to shape his son’s education. Despite this, painting was always present around the young Pieter, and he was unable to escape his father’s powerful shadow. Whilst learning watercolour painting from his grandmother - the Flemish painter Mayken Verhulst (also known as Maria Bessemers) - he was confronted with the growing demand for his father’s works. According to Karel van Manders, he later apprenticed in Antwerp to the landscape painter Gillis van Coninxloo, but his style moved increasingly closer to the model of Pieter Brueghel the Elder.
Manager of a successful family studio
Pieter Brueghel the Younger is documented as an independent master and member of the Guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp from the year 1585; there he ran his own studio where nine assistants worked alongside his younger brother Jan. The business flourished, helped not least by the circumstances of the time which saw a rise of the middle classes and the associated demand for secular artworks. As a result, numerous paintings were produced in the family studio, mostly following originals by Pieter Brueghel the Elder; as the majority of these were owned privately, Pieter Brueghel the Younger had to work from his father’s sketches and preparatory drawings, supplemented when necessary, and enriched with his own ideas.
A hellish Brueghel (Höllenbrueghel) who wasn’t such
To this day, Pieter the Younger is also known by his nickname ‘Höllenbrueghel’, based on the erroneous attribution of some scenes of hell, which were in fact created by his brother Jan Brueghel the Elder. Nevertheless, works by Pieter Brueghel the Younger are not lacking today; they stand out for their multitude of figures and (only apparent) complexity. It is also thanks to the son that lost originals by the Elder are preserved, at least in the form of a re-creation. Many pictures also exist in numerous variations and so offer the connoisseur a fascinating opportunity for comparison. Certainly not all works from the Antwerp studio can be linked to older models, however, and some paintings, such as ‘The Adoration of the Magi in the Snow’, are considered creations by Pieter Brueghel the Younger himself.
A fulfilling life and rich legacy
Pieter Brueghel the Younger lived to the age of 73; he died in 1638, the same year as his wife Elisabeth Goddelet, to whom he had been married since 1588. His legacy is immense: More than 1000 works are attributed to Pieter the Younger and his brother Jan, and his artistic works have made a decisive contribution to the Brueghel name dominating the art world for more than 150 years. Of his seven children, the painter Pieter III Brueghel in particular achieved lasting fame.
Pieter Brueghel the Younger - Works that have already been sold at Kunsthaus Lempertz: