pieter bruegel the elder
Bruegel was to work for Cock until his last years, but from 1556 on he concentrated, surprisingly enough, on satirical, didactic, and moralizing subjects, often in the fantastic or grotesque manner of Hiëronymus Bosch, imitations of whose works were very popular at the time. Other artists were content with a more or less close imitation of Bosch, but Bruegel’s inventiveness lifted his designs above mere imitation, and he soon found ways to express his ideas in a much different manner. His early fame rested on prints published by Cock after such designs. But the new subject matter and the interest in the human figure did not lead to the abandonment of landscape. Bruegel in fact extended his explorations in this field. Side by side with his mountain compositions, he began to draw the woods of the countryside; he turned then to Flemish villages and, in 1562, to townscapes with the towers and gates of Amsterdam.
The double interest in landscape and in subjects requiring the representation of human figures also informed, often jointly, the paintings that Bruegel produced in increasing numbers after his return from Italy. All of his paintings, even those in which the landscape appears as the dominant feature, have some narrative content. Conversely, in those that are primarily narrative, the landscape setting often carries part of the meaning. Dated paintings have survived from each year of the period except 1558 and 1561. Within this decade falls Bruegel’s marriage to Mayken Coecke in the Church of Notre-Dame de la Chapelle in Brussels in 1563 and his move to that city, in which Mayken and her mother were living. His residence recently was restored and turned into a Bruegel museum. There is, however, some doubt as to the correctness of the identification.
The actions undertaken by the villagers represent approximately 120 different Netherlandish proverbs, all related to the oddities of human behavior. In the left foreground a man bangs his head against a brick wall, representing the tendency of a fool to continue attempting the impossible; to the right, a figure leans distraught over a pot of spilt porridge, reminding the viewer that completed actions cannot be undone. Bruegel is noted for his busy compositions, involving many groups of figures engaged in small interactions. These individual compositions in turn establish an overall theme, often satirical or didactic, a compositional approach which has had a profound impact on art history. The influence of Bruegel‘s allegorical tableaux can be sensed, for example, in the work of the Dutch Symbolist and Expressionist James Ensor, who uses a similar compositional style in Christ’s Entry into Brussels (1888) and The Baths at Ostend (1890).
There is some speculation that Bruegel himself might have been a victim of malicious gossip towards the end of his life, although no specific narrative supports this theory. It is known, however, that he left this work to his wife, and Karel van Mander has argued that the gesture was a loaded one: “he was referring by the magpie to the gossips, whom he would like to see hanged.”
In contrast, scholars of the last sixty years have emphasized the intellectual content of his work, and conclude: “There is, in fact, every reason to think that Pieter Bruegel was a townsman and a highly educated one, on friendly terms with the humanists of his time”,  ignoring Van Mander’s dorp and just placing his childhood in Breda itself.  Breda was already a significant centre as the base of the House of Orange-Nassau, with a population of some 8,000,  although 90% of the 1300 houses were destroyed in a fire in 1534. However, this reversal can be taken to excess; although Bruegel moved in highly educated humanist circles, it seems “he had not mastered Latin”, and had others add the Latin captions in some of his drawings. 
Late monumental peasant figures
Over the years, the Fall of Icarus has been contested by art critics as to whether it is truly an original work by Bruegel, or a copy. Though numerous tests have led to mixed results, what can be inferred is that due to the the painting being transferred from panel to canvas, the process left the current work damaged. Whether it be an original work of Bruegel’s or not remains a mystery for the art historians and critics, yet the rest of the world will continue to marvel at this masterful painting at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels.
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.
He was a formative influence on Dutch Golden Age painting and later painting in general in his innovative choices of subject matter, as one of the first generation of artists to grow up when religious subjects had ceased to be the natural subject matter of painting. He also painted no portraits, the other mainstay of Netherlandish art. After his training and travels to Italy, he returned in 1555 to settle in Antwerp, where he worked mainly as a prolific designer of prints for the leading publisher of the day. Only towards the end of the decade did he switch to make painting his main medium, and all his famous paintings come from the following period of little more than a decade before his early death, when he was probably in his early forties, and at the height of his powers.
His nickname was “Peasant Brueghel,” as he would often don peasant’s clothing and attend social gatherings and weddings, in order to mingle and interact with the locals, and gain insight and inspiration for his paintings. He also fathered two other prominent Flemish painters, Pieter Brueghel the Younger and Jan Brueghel the Elder, although it is thought that they were not taught by their father, as he died when they were young children.