(Above: The Peasant Wedding (1567) oil on panel 114x164cm, Vienna Kunsthistortisches Mueseum, Vienna).
Pieter Bruegel the Elder was a Flemish Renaissance painter and print maker known for his landscapes and peasant scenes and sometimes referred to as the “Peasant Bruegel“.
He was born c. 1525 in a town near Breda. The main source for Bruegel’s biography is from Karel van Mander’s Schilder-boeck (1604).
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 painter’s guild. 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.
Although Bruegel often painted scenes of carousing and community gatherings, he often depicted people with disabilities. The majority of Bruegel’s paintings have many different actions occurring at once such as the example in The Peasant Wedding where he painted both individual and identifiable people.
He died in Brussels on 9 September 1569 and was buried in the Kapellekerk.