Pieter Brueghel (also Bruegel or Breughel) the Younger (/ˈbrɔɪɡəl/, also US: /ˈbruːɡəl/; Dutch: [ˈpitər ˈbrøːɣəl] (listen); between 23 May and 10 October 1564 – between March and May 1638) was a Flemish painter, known for numerous copies after his father Pieter Bruegel the Elder's work as well as his original compositions. The large output of his studio, which produced for the local and export market, contributed to the international spread of his father's imagery.
Traditionally Pieter Brueghel the Younger has been nicknamed "de helse Brueghel" or "Hell Brueghel" because it was believed he was the author of several paintings with fantastic depictions of fire and grotesque imagery. These paintings have now been attributed to his brother Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Pieter Brueghel the Younger was born in Brussels, the oldest son of the famous sixteenth-century Netherlandish painter Pieter Brueghel the Elder (known as "Peasant Brueghel") and Mayken Coecke van Aelst. His father died in 1569, when Pieter the younger was only five years old. Following the death of his mother in 1578, Pieter, together with his brother Jan Brueghel the Elder (also referred to as "Velvet Brueghel", "Paradise Breughel" and "Flower Breughel") and sister Marie, went to live with their grandmother Mayken Verhulst. Mayken Verhulst was the widow of the prolific artist Pieter Coecke van Aelst and an accomplished artist in her own right, known for her miniature paintings. According to the early 17th-century Flemish biographer Karel van Mander Mayken Verhulst was possibly the first teacher of her two grandsons.
The Brueghel family moved to Antwerp sometime after 1578 and Pieter possibly entered the studio of the landscape painter Gillis van Coninxloo (1544–1607). His teacher left Antwerp in 1585 and in the 1584/1585 registers of the Guild of Saint Luke, "Peeter Brugel" is listed as an independent master.
On 5 November 1588 Pieter married Elisabeth Goddelet. The couple had seven children, many of whom died young. One son called Pieter Brueghel III was also a painter. Pieter Brueghel the Younger operated a large studio in Antwerp which produced mainly inexpensive copies of his father's work for local sale and export. He was nevertheless often in financial difficulties, possibly due to drinking. He had at least 9 pupils including Frans Snyders and Andries Danielsz.
He died in Antwerp, aged 72.
Pieter Brueghel the Younger painted landscapes, religious subjects, proverbs and village scenes. A few flower still life paintings by Pieter have been recorded. His genre paintings of peasants emphasize the picturesque, and are regarded by some as lacking Pieter the Elder's subtlety and humanism.
He and his workshop were prolific copyists of Pieter Bruegel the Elder's most famous compositions. His name and work were largely forgotten in the 18th and 19th centuries until he was rediscovered in the first half of the 20th century.
Pieter Brueghel the Younger created original works largely in the idiom of his father which are energetic, bold and bright and adapted to the 17th-century style. One of the artist's most successful original designs was the painting of The Village Lawyer (sometimes also called the Tax Collector's Office, the Payment of the Tithe, the Lawyer of Bad Cases and the Notary's Office). The different titles of the work indicate that it may have been interpreted in these different ways in the 17th century. The title The Village Lawyer is probably the best suited since the person behind the desk is wearing a lawyer's bonnet, the collection of taxes usually did not occur in such setting and the paperwork and bags on the desk look like those for requests and decrees. The picture also shows peasants lining up with presents such as chickens and eggs to please the lawyer, which was a common occurrence, whereas tithe payments were made in grain. The painting shows his interest in and close observation of village life. Pieter Brueghel the Younger's workshop made many copies of the composition in different formats. There exist 19 signed and dated versions of this work (from between 1615–22) out of some 25 originals and 35 questionable versions.
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