Pieter Bruegel: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

  • Pieter Bruegel was a Flemish Renaissance painter, who lived from about 1525 to 1569. He is well known for his paintings of peasants and landscapes.
  • Painting peasants in everyday life was rare in Bruegel’s time and his work gives us an important insight into everyday life in the 16th century.

  • Although he was born with the last name of Breughel after the town of his birth, he spelt his name without the ‘h’ from 1559 onward.
  • He had two sons, one of whom also became a successful painter.
  • He was often nicknamed Peasant Bruegel. He sometimes went to weddings and meals dresses like a poor peasant to get ideas for his paintings, and to better mingle with people.

Pieter Bruegal

  • Bruegel worked in Antwerp in 1551 and became a master of that city’s guild. He also made a trip to Italy in 1552, and then to Switzerland, where he completed several drawings of the Alps.
  • Hunters in the Snow is one of Pieter Bruegel’s most famous paintings. It was one of a series of 6 paintings showing the different seasons, which a wealthy merchant requested.
  • Bruegel often painted people with disabilities and another of his well known paintings is The Blind Leading the Blind. The painting’s subject of blind people is based upon a quote from the Bible.
  • The Adoration of the Kings is another of Pieter Bruegel’s famous paintings. The painting shows someone wearing spectacles even though they had not been invented in Biblical times.
  • Bruegel asked his family to burn many of his paintings, when he was on his deathbed. This was to protect his wife and sons from political persecution caused by religious conflicts.
  • Only about 45 paintings by Pieter Bruegel survive, of which about a third are in Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum. However, many of his drawings and engravings have been discovered.

What next? Discover some facts about other famous artists, or learn more about the Tudors.