Brueghel Breugel was a flaemic painter

rheinische ART - culture magazine online

Rhenish ART 02/2015

Archive 2015


Not a normal family


Four generations at the easel, a true dynasty of artists. The Flemish Brueghel family from Antwerp was one of the most important painters of the 16th and 17th centuries. Her works were already highly valued by contemporaries. Today they are part of Europe's cultural heritage and highlights in the world's most famous museums and collections.


Pieter Brueghel the YoungerThe flatterers, around 1592, Maastricht, private collection, photo © Joseph Guttmann, New York

This line is written on the original frame: “OM DAT DOOR MUNEN SACK VEEL GELTS COMT GESLOPEN DAER OM WORDE ICK VAN AL DE WEERELT IN T GAT GHECROPEN 1592” (“As long as the money is pouring into my bag, everyone will crawl up my ass 1592 ")


In Paderborn, an exhibition - the likes of which has not yet been seen between the Rhine and Weser rivers - provides an overview of the diverse work of the Brueghels and the most important artists in their area. With over 140 paintings, drawings and prints, it guides you through four generations of the work of this family of painters. It is a show that reveals more than just beauty in flower bouquets or landscapes.

It also gives an idea of ​​how in Antwerp - the art hotspot before and after 1600 - the great painters and studios organized themselves, how they produced, cooperated, and rationalized: art production and trade were based on a sophisticated one in the Flemish-Dutch Renaissance Economic system, aligned with the market with a high degree of networking. Networking à la Brueghel & Co.


Family network of painters Since the reproductive clan produced numerous talents and successful painter offspring in around 150 years and branched out widely, an overview and good structuring of the relationships are required. In the Paderborn Museum Schloss Neuhaus it becomes clear which Brueghel - or Bruegel, Breughel, Breugel, the spelling is recognized to vary - when brought what onto the canvas. An educational tour.


Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Frans Huys Armed three-master with the fall of the Icarus, c. 1561/62, copper engraving, private collection, USA, photo © Joseph Guttmann, New York

Generation 1: The Farmer's Breughel The artistic progenitor of the later extended family was Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1525 / 30-1569), one of the most outstanding painters of the 16th century in Northern Europe. His works, which were widely distributed in the form of prints, had a lasting influence on the development of the entire Flemish-Dutch landscape and genre painting. This basic Brueghel, which is also called "the Drollige" or "Bauern-Brueghel", became particularly well known very early on for its depictions of rural life, as found in the "farmer weddings" or "peasant dances".
From an art-historical point of view, this ancestor was a real pioneer with his keen view of the everyday reality of ordinary people and the representation of the everyday life of his contemporaries. In his earlier works he had concentrated on conventional and above all on religious topics, as dictated by the great dominance of religious iconography in previous centuries. Later, however, people who otherwise appeared at best as accessories in the background were the focus of his art. 40 of his works have survived today. The so-called "hidden objects", compositions with sometimes more than 100 people, are famous. What is astonishing: In the extremely complex imagery of the master, even the smallest detail is still a bearer of meaning. They are painted stories that the visitor sees. Exciting, amusing, fascinating, too much for a quick glance. Pieter Brueghel the Elder needs time!


Pieter Brueghel the Younger Return from the fair, 1619/1636, Fürstenberg Foundation Eggeringhausen


Generation 2: the sons His son of the same name Pieter Brueghel the Younger - also known as "Höllen-Brueghel" (1565-1638) - was based very much on the work of the father and was mainly active as his almost serial copyist, while his brother, who was born three years later, was active Jan Brueghel the Elder - Additional title "Blumen-Brueghel" (1568-1625) - took a different path. He developed his own style. He primarily dealt with lifelike pieces of flowers, small-format landscape paintings and detailed allegories; they are groundbreaking works for Flemish baroque painting.


Jan Brueghel the Elder and Jan Brueghel the Younger Still life with tulips and roses, 1610, USA, private collection, photo © Joseph Guttmann, New York


This Brueghel scion became known not least thanks to its extraordinary ability to reproduce material qualities, which also earned it the nickname "Sammet-Brueghel". He is also considered a pioneer of a realistic landscape representation that throws the viewer right into the action. In his perspective, the scenery is consistently aligned with a vanishing point and accommodates the viewer even more, as the artist changes from an upright format to a horizontal representation. Also with that was Jan Brueghel the Elder style-forming.

Generation 3: The sons of sons The two male descendants of Jan, the children's children of the ancestral father Pieter, also became renowned artists: Jan Brueghel the Younger (1601-1678) continued the family tradition in his father's workshop and by and large followed the painterly model of his respected father.

Brother concentrated on the other hand Ambrosius Brueghel (1617-1675), Dean of the Guild of St. Luke, as a baroque painter almost without exception focused on the flower still life genre. By the way: daughter Anna Brueghel (1619-1656) married the painter appropriately and economically David Teniers the Elder J., Peter Paul Rubens was best man. Teniers knew about measured and humorous peasant images, but there was also no lack of drinking, dancing and beating scenes.


Jan Brueghel the Younger Flemish village in winter with ice skaters, around 1630–1635, Switzerland, private collection, photo © Joseph Guttmann, New York


Generation 4: sons, sons ... and sons-in-lawJan Brueghel the Younger had with his wife Anna Maria Janssens eleven children. Five of the seven male descendants also became painters. The great-grandchildren were particularly well-known Jan Pieter, Abraham and Jan Baptist. They formed the last generation of the painter dynasty, which eventually also included the sons-in-law Jan van Kessel the Elder and David Teniers the Younger are to be counted. None of the descendants of the progenitor Pieter Brueghel the Elder However, it achieved its success and artistically outstanding importance for Flemish painting.
Many well-known painters in Antwerp had a close, mostly business relationship with the Brueghels, for example Joos de Momper, Peter Paul Rubens and Lucas van Valckenborch. Competition or not: When it was a matter of realizing buyers' wishes and earning something, then it was quite common to cooperate at "eye level" and to deliver special skills: plastic still lifes of flowers, for example, or pictures of animals, putti bodies or landscapes, which then together Works adorned.


Jan van Kessel the Elder River landscape with fishermen, Private collection, Great Britain, photo © Joseph Guttmann, New York


The thematic spectrum The show, divided into five chapters, is broadly based: From the “Seven Deadly Sins” of Hieronymus Bosch, the great role model of Pieter Brueghel the Elder, about river landscapes and genre scenes of father and son Pieter, allegories and symbols, mythological and Christian depictions, fruit and flower still lifes, as well as subtle drawings of villages, towns and ports.
It is an exhibition on an international level - not only in terms of the importance of the topic, but also in relation to the provenance of the loans. They come from over 40 private and public collections in Europe and America. In Germany, “The Brueghel Family” can only be seen in Paderborn.


► There are several spellings for the family name. The first signatures can be found as Brueghel, later Breughel and Bruegel. The reasons for the changes are unknown. The title of the exhibition in Paderborn refers to the original signature of the progenitor Pieter Brueghel.

Klaus M. Martinetz


The exhibition "The Brueghel Family" will be shown until June 21, 2015.

Municipal gallery in the riding arena
Neuhaus Castle, Paderborn

In the castle park 12
D- 33104 Paderborn
Tel. 05251/881076
Fax 05251/881061

Opening hours:
TUE-SUN 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
THU until 10 p.m.