Throughout the course of history, innovative people have been subject to rejection in the beginning of their careers, yet later become prominent figures. Pieter Bruegel was a Flemish artist who revolutionize the Northern Renaissance in the 1500’s. He led a life of complexity, especially during the times of religious and political fighting. He made much advancement during his age by painting peasants and landscapes; this was the first time in history in which this had been done. Bruegel’s quiet nature has been described by friends in their writings and is also evident in his artwork. Bruegel’s serene landscapes are a reflection of his character, yet more violent works suggest there is more beneath the surface. Bruegel was thought to be eccentric because he was different, but now he is regarded as one of the superstars of the Renaissance.
Though his birthplace is unknown, scholars believe the life of Pieter Bruegel began in 1525 most likely in Breda, Netherlands (World Book 649). In his youth, Bruegel decided on a career in artistry and traveled to Rome to study. His return to Breda included a rendezvous through the Alps, where he observed one of the few nature scenes in his life (Foote 72). A noted craftsman in Antwerp, Pieter Coeck van Aelst, offered the young Bruegel an apprenticeship, where he learned the craft of painting and drawing (Foote 70). To provide for the trip from Flanders to Antwerp, Bruegel had four wealthy patrons in Flanders (Foote 78). The Hapsburg Court also noticed Bruegel’s potential and later became a major sponsor of his art (Hanson 477). As Bruegel’s style developed, he learned from great artists of the time, such as Michaelangelo. This is evident because Bruegel’s work shifts from paintings teeming with life to only some dramatic figures (Foote 76). In 1551, once Bruegel’s goals were established, the Guild of St. Luke recognized him as a master painter in Antwerp by (Pieter Bruegel The Elder). In Antwerp, he made most of his engravings and paintings for private patrons (New Book 414). By 1558, Bruegel was doing less drawing and more painting while still working with van Aelst (Foote 100). It was in 1561 that Bruegel asked the daughter of van Aelst, Mayken Verhulst, to marry him (Foote 14). The two wed and moved immediately to Brussels in 1563, where they later had two sons, Pieter the Younger and Jan (Foote 14). By 1554, Bruegel was painting full time to make a living for himself and his wife (Foote 76). As he developed his technique, he made several alterations. The most major change was visible in 1563, when Bruegel stopped using only black and white and began using oil paints (Foote 76). Bruegel was a highly educated man, and many of his close friends were humanists (Hanson 477). Bruegel most passionately studied the work of Bosch, an important artist of the time (The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6020). Bruegel idolized the “delirious phantasms” of Bosch’s works and followed the ideas of folly, joy, and fantasy (Guardian Review). Bosch clearly influenced many of Bruegel’s paintings, as evidenced by his various surrealistic images (Lazere). Bruegel worked hard to establish his career in artistry, while the events surrounding him were not so positive.
There were many issues between the North and the South regarding the difference in painting styles. Throughout the Italian Renaissance, many changes and advancements were made in art, making the South very critical of artists in the Northern Renaissance, including Bruegel. Because the Middle Ages lingered in the North, the South considered the artists inferior (Foote 16). Another distinction between the two techniques involved a difference in subject matter in the North because of the brutal weather conditions. Northern Europe’s climate was cold and life was short, strenuous and painful (Foote 15). For these reasons, the Northern painter was labeled as too unsophisticated or too unskilled to observe Italian rules of...
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