pieter bruegel painting
From the fact that Bruegel entered the Antwerp painters’ guild in 1551, it is inferred that he was born between 1525 and 1530.  His master, according to Van Mander, was the Antwerp painter Pieter Coecke van Aelst, whose daughter Mayken Coecke Bruegel married in 1563. 
He left Italy by 1554, and had reached Antwerp by 1555, when the set of prints to his designs known as the Large Landscapes were published by Hieronymus Cock, the most important print publisher of northern Europe. Bruegel‘s return route is uncertain, but much of the debate over it was made irrelevant in the 1980s when it was realized that the celebrated series of large drawings of mountain landscapes thought to have been made on the trip were not by Bruegel at all.  However, all the drawings from the trip that are considered authentic are of landscapes; unlike most other 16th-century artists visiting Rome he seems to have ignored both classical ruins and contemporary buildings. 
Bruegel’s piece the Fall of Icarus captures the exact climax of this story aesthetically, as viewers can see a pair of legs poking out from the sea on the foreground of the painting. Yet, while the tale does reference this as a tragic event, the subjects in Bruegel’s painting appear to be passive rather than entranced, as they continue on with their daily routines, alluding to a metaphorical connection about how humans may perceive tragic events.
The Triumph Of Death depicts a battle-stricken landscape, showcasing Bruegel’s incredibly complex style. Spend some time looking at it to really comprehend the symbolism behind it. Have you noticed that one of the two armies fighting against each other is composed entirely out of skeletons? The painting itself also features objects and activities that are intended to depict daily life in the 16th century, but an odd twist of fate has this otherwise tranquil landscape become a scene of chaos as skeletons seem to takeover the village. You can admire this artwork in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, where it has been since 1827.
In Brussels, Bruegel produced his greatest paintings but only few designs for engravings, for the connection with Hiëronymus Cock may have become less close after Bruegel left Antwerp. Another reason for the concentration on painting may have been his growing success in this field. Among his patrons was Antione Perrenot Cardinal de Granvelle, president of the council of state in the Netherlands, in whose palace in Brussels the sculptor Jacques Jonghelinck had a studio. He and Bruegel had traveled in Italy at the same time, and his brother, a rich Antwerp collector, Niclaes, was Bruegel’s greatest patron, having by 1566 acquired 16 of his paintings. Another patron was Abraham Ortelius, who in a memorable obituary called Bruegel the most perfect artist of the century. Most of his paintings were done for collectors.
There is but little information about his life. According to Carel van Mander’s Het Schilderboeck (Book of Painters), published in Amsterdam in 1604 (35 years after Bruegel’s death), Bruegel was apprenticed to Pieter Coecke van Aelst, a leading Antwerp artist who had located in Brussels. The head of a large workshop, Coecke was a sculptor, architect, and designer of tapestry and stained glass who had traveled in Italy and in Turkey. Although Bruegel’s earliest surviving works show no stylistic dependence on Coecke’s Italianate art, connections with Coecke’s compositions can be detected in later years, particularly after 1563, when Bruegel married Coecke’s daughter Mayken. In any case, the apprenticeship with Coecke represented an early contact with a humanistic milieu. Through Coecke, Bruegel became linked indirectly to another tradition as well. Coecke’s wife, Maria Verhulst Bessemers, was a painter known for her work in watercolour or tempera, a suspension of pigments in egg yolk or a glutinous substance, on linen. The technique was widely practiced in her hometown of Mechelen (Malines) and was later employed by Bruegel. It is also in the works of Mechelen’s artists that allegorical and peasant thematic material first appear. These subjects, unusual in Antwerp, were later treated by Bruegel. In 1551 or 1552 Bruegel set off on the customary northern artist’s journey to Italy, probably by way of France. From several extant paintings, drawings, and etchings, it can be deduced that he traveled beyond Naples to Sicily, possibly as far as Palermo, and that in 1553 he lived for some time in Rome, where he worked with a celebrated miniaturist, Giulio Clovio, an artist greatly influenced by Michelangelo and later a patron of the young El Greco. The inventory of Clovio’s estate shows that he owned a number of paintings and drawings by Bruegel as well as a miniature done by the two artists in collaboration. It was in Rome in 1553 that Bruegel produced his earliest signed and dated painting, Landscape with Christ and the Apostles at the Sea of Tiberias. The holy figures in this painting were probably done by Maarten de Vos, a painter from Antwerp then working in Italy.
This work has been the subject of much moral speculation, revolving especially around the various figures who remain ignorant of Icarus’s plight, only the shepherd glancing up towards the sky, and not even towards the relevant spot. The displacement of Icarus from center-stage has been interpreted as a directive to remain focused on one’s own daily life. William Dello Russo has even suggested that the painting may illustrate a well-known Netherlandish expression, “one does not stay the plow for one who is dying.” Landscape with the Fall of Icarus was given its most famous twentieth-century treatment by the poet W.H. Auden, whose poem MusГ©e des Beaux Arts (1938) considers how suffering and personal drama take place in a wider context of ongoing life.
This painting reflects Bruegel’s ability to create captivating allegorical works based on both religious doctrine and common maxims. The painting illustrates a passage found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke -“[a]nd if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” – but the phrase would have had the currency of a common saying, as it still does, and the curious mixture of empathy and grim amusement that the blind men’s plight elicits needs no scriptural grounding. It emanates from that same elementary sense of the pathos and absurdity of human experience that the artist himself drew from. As art historian Max DvorГЎk wrote in 1928, “[the painting’s] novelty lies in the very fact that such an insignificant occurrence with such insignificant heroes becomes the focus of this view of the world.”
Pieter Brueghel the Elder was an innovative Flemish Renaissance painter and printmaker, known for his sweeping landscapes and peasant scenes. He was apprenticed early in his life to painter Pieter Croecke van Aelst, and in 1551 around the age of 26 he as accepted into a painter’s guild in Antwerp as a master painter.
The two main early sources for Bruegel’s biography are Lodovico Guicciardini’s account of the Low Countries (1567) and Karel van Mander’s 1604 Schilder-boeck. Guicciardini recorded that Bruegel was born in Breda, but van Mander specified that Bruegel was born in a village near Breda called “Brueghel”, which does not fit any known place. Nothing at all is known of his family background. Van Mander seems to assume he came from a peasant background, in keeping with the over-emphasis on Bruegel’s peasant genre scenes given by van Mander and many early art historians and critics.