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How an ordinary mortal can distinguish between the works of 6 representatives of the artistic dynasty of Brueghel
How an ordinary mortal can distinguish between the works of 6 representatives of the artistic dynasty of Brueghel

For the history of painting, creative dynasties are not at all uncommon. But six famous Flemish artists, who bore the Bruegel surname and were closely related to each other, stand apart here. Intricate questions of authorship and outright forgeries, visions of hell and pictures of paradise, hard peasant life and Madonna in flowers - all this is the story of three generations of one family.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, nicknamed "The Peasant"

Hunters in the snow

The most famous representative of the Bruegel dynasty was born in the city of Breda or in the village of Bruegel near him - this is how his surname originally sounded. He created many graphic and pictorial works, most of which, even referring the viewer to religious subjects, reflect the life of ordinary peasants. For all his popularity, the artist refused to "opportunistic", as they would say now, orders - he did not paint portraits, avoided nudity.

Peasant wedding

Peasant holidays and hunting scenes deny the heroes individual traits - until the late period of his work, when the artist kind of "brings" the heroes closer to the viewer and creates a number of powerful, recognizable images. Over the years, during the period of Spanish terror in the Netherlands, Bruegel's painting became more and more allegorical and gloomy, scenes of gallows and mass executions appeared - formally "biblical", but in fact reflecting the real events of these difficult years. After the death of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, for several decades his work was copied and sold under his name - and in this case one of his sons played a role.

Pieter Bruegel the Younger, he's … hellish

Egg dance

Pieter Bruegel the Elder and his wife passed away one year apart, leaving their sons orphans. The boys were raised by their grandmother, who was directly related to art, the miniaturist artist Maiken Verhlyust. They grew up literally with a pencil in their hands, but they chose different paths in art. Pieter Bruegel the Younger, already at a young age, began to work with his father's sketches and cardboards, and during his life he periodically returned to the thorough copying of his works. He gained fame as an imitator of Bosch and the creator of absurd visions of hell, boiling cauldrons and other horrors.

Spring, work in the garden

However, over the years, retaining his love for high detail and multi-figured compositions, Pieter Brueghel the Younger began to create large-scale canvases that carefully capture the life and customs of his compatriots, the nature of his native country. He gave biblical names to some of these works and organically fit the themes of the Gospel into the daily life of Flemish peasants and townspeople.

Jan Brueghel the Elder - Paradise and Velvet

Flight to Egypt

Jan was only two years old when he was completely orphaned. Under the careful guidance of his grandmother, and then local and Italian teachers, he developed his own style - exquisite landscapes, paradise gardens, flower still lifes … He painted flowers only and exclusively from nature.

Images of Madonnas in flowers

His status in the artistic environment of the Netherlands and the patronage of the august persons opened the doors for him to the royal greenhouses, where the rarest plants were grown far from prying eyes - and the artist was ready to wait for months for this or that flower that interested him to bloom.He was warm friends and worked with Rubens, who lovingly called him "big brother." For the softness of color, the subtle play of light and the choice of themes, the artist, in contrast to the “hellish” brother, is called “heavenly”.

Jan Brueghel the Younger in the shadow of his father

Basket of flowers

The life of Jan Brueghel the Elder, his second wife and three children was carried away by a cholera epidemic in 1625. However, the illness spared his son from his first marriage - also Jan Brueghel, then nicknamed the Younger, respectively. At that time he lived in Italy, where he went at one time to continue his apprenticeship. Returning to his homeland, Jan, as expected, headed his father's workshop and continued to work in his artistic style - allegorical landscapes, flower arrangements, vases and wreaths …

Still lifes with flowers

Despite his own successes, Jan Brueghel the Younger often passed off his works as his father's paintings, which today creates a problem with the attribution of their works. It is believed that the junior flower lover still did not surpass the pictorial achievements of his parent, and chiaroscuro was especially difficult for him. The wife of Jan Brueghel the Younger was also an artist and taught, in particular, his younger half-brother, Ambrosius Brueghel.

Ambrosius Bruegel and his own path

Still life with fruits, flowers and a monkey

Ambrosius worked with his brother for most of his career and followed the same small spectrum of themes - gardens, wreaths, floral still lifes … However, he never tried to imitate his father (which does not help researchers in attribution of his works - the authorship of many of them remains uncertain).

Landscape with a river bank

When the husband of his sister Anna, David Teniers the Younger, founded the Academy of Arts in Antwerp, Ambrosius accepted his offer and began teaching. As a painter, he gained a certain popularity during his lifetime, but relatively little information about his work remained.

Abraham Bruegel's Italian love

Fruits, flowers and valuable dishes

The son of Jan Brueghel the Younger is a famous artist of the Baroque era, famous not only for his flower compositions (yes, another successor to the "paradise" Brueghel), but also scandalous, by the standards of conservative Flemings, personal life. He became famous already at fifteen, at twenty-five he left for Rome for an internship, where he plunged headlong into bohemian life. He entered several art associations, received a concussion in a fight with a colleague (these were the traditions of Italian artistic life), found wealthy patrons, made friends with the “pillars” of classicism, Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin. He married an Italian woman - the daughter of a local sculptor, got an Italian mistress …

Lady picking fruit

In general, he firmly took root on Italian soil. True, from Rome over time he moved to Naples, where he painted luxurious still lifes until his death. Sometimes a mysterious female figure appears in his works, graceful and elegantly dressed, but the identity of this lady could not be established.

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