Pieter Bruegel (also Brueghel) the Elder was a Flemish Renaissance painter and printmaker known for his landscapes and peasant scenes (so called genre painting). He is sometimes referred to as the Peasant Bruegel. From 1559, he dropped the h from his name and signed his paintings as Bruegel.

The main source for Bruegels biography is Karel van Manders 1604 Schilder-boeck. According to van Mander, he was born in Breugel near the (now Dutch) town of Breda. There are however also records that show that he was born in Breda, and there is some uncertainty whether the (now Belgian) town of Bree, called Breda in Latin, is meant. He was an apprentice of Pieter Coecke van Aelst, whose daughter Mayken he later married. He spent some time in France and Italy, and then went to Antwerp, where in 1551 he was accepted as a master in the painters guild. He traveled to Italy soon after, and then returned to Antwerp before settling in Brussels permanently 10 years later.

He received the nickname Peasant Bruegel or Bruegel the Peasant for his practice of dressing up like a peasant in order to socialize at weddings and other celebrations, thereby gaining inspiration and authentic details for his genre paintings. He died in Brussels on 9 September 1569 and was buried in the Kapellekerk.




Northern Renaissance


1525 - 1569


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Pieter Bruegel paintings: