This year in Brussels we have a unique chance to dive into works of Pieter Breugel the Elder. At the occasion of the 450th anniversary of his death, we can visit wonderful exhibitions and events. You may find the program of all of them at flemishmasters.com.
I didn’t know that Pieter Bruegel the Elder died so young at the age of – most probably – 45. He was active as an artist for 18 years and there are only about 40 paintings, 60 drawings, and 80 prints known to be by his hand.
Aren’t you curious what happened that he died so young? I tried to find an answer and spent quite some time in the internet. Surprisingly, I found none. During my visit to The World of Breugel in Black and White at KBR, excellent audio-guide gave a little fact, which may be a good food for speculation. Allegedly he told his wife before his death to burn some drawings, perhaps designs for prints, carrying inscriptions “which were too sharp or sarcastic…either out of remorse or for fear that she might come to harm or in some way be held responsible for them”. Apparently they might have been politically or doctrinally provocative. If anyone knows more about circumstances of his death, please share!
Most of the sources also state that he was born in Breda, the Netherlands sometime between 1525 – 1530. However, as I was investigating a history of his death, I also found one source which said it was actually not sure if it wasn’t Belgian city of Bree, which in Latin is called Breda.
Brussels and Bruegel are inextricably linked. The most important part of his short life took place in here and he is buried in Church of Notre Dame de la Chapelle.