PIETER BRUEGEL the ELDER

City: Wien
Museum/Gallery: Kunsthistorisches Museum
Artist: Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Year: 1525/30-1569

 

PIETER BRUEGEL the ELDER

October 2, 2018 – January 13, 2019

KUNST HISTORISCHES MUSEUM WIEN

Pieter Bruegel the Elder_GG_1026_201704_Gesamt_CD_ret_950wPieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) The Tower of Babel. 1563, oak panel, 114 × 155 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Picture Gallery © KHM-Museumsverband

The first-ever major monograph show dedicated to the greatest Netherlandish
painter of the sixteenth century: Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30‒1569)

Pieter-Bruegel-the-Elder_Cat_73_6_HiRez_Maler_und_Kenner_Albertina_Detail7500_950w.jpg    The exhibition commemorates the 450th anniversary of his death. During his lifetime, Pieter Bruegel the Elder was already among the period’s most sought-after artists, with his works achieving exceptionally high prices. Only about forty paintings and sixty prints by him are all that has come down to us.  

    The twelve panels in the Kunsthistorisches Museum are by far the largest collection of Bruegels in the world, a fact we owe to 16th century Habsburg connoisseurs who already appreciated the exceptional quality of his works and strove to acquire these prestigious paintings.

    Bruegel revolutionised landscape and genre painting, and his compositions continue to elicit varied and controversial interpretations. The depth and breadth of his pictorial world and the perceptive powers of observation he employs in his depictions of quotidian life continue to fascinate all who encounter his works.  IMAGE: Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) The Painter and the Connoisseur c. 1565, pen and brown ink, 203 × 309 mm Vienna, Albertina © The Albertina Museum Vienna

A once-in-a-lifetime exhibition

Museums and private collectors count Bruegel’s works among their most precious and fragile possessions. Most of the panels have never been loaned for an exhibition. By bringing together over 90 works by the master, the exhibition in Vienna has assembled for the very first time a comprehensive overview of Bruegel’s oeuvre: comprising around 30 panel paintings (i.e. threequarters of extant paintings) and almost half of his preserved drawings and prints, the show offers visitors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to immerse themselves in the artist’s complex pictorial world, to study his stylistic development and his creative process, and to get to know his method of work, his pictorial humour and his unique narrative powers.

Highlights 
The Haymaking

Pieter-Bruegel-the-Elder_Highres_LR11560_Bruegel_Haymaking_Weigl_950w.jpgPieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) The Haymaking, 1565, oak panel, 114 × 158 cm, Prague, The Lobkowicz Collections, Lobkowicz Palace, Prague Castle © The Lobkowicz Collections

View of the Bay of Naples

Pieter-Bruegel-the-Elder_Rome_View_of_the_Bay_of_Naples_ADP_Fc_546_Pieter_Bruegel_HighRes_950w.jpgPieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) View of the Bay of Naples, c. 1563?, panel, 42.2 × 71.2 cm, Rome, Galleria Doria Pamphilj © Rome, Galleria Doria Pamphilj

Two Monkeys

Pieter-Bruegel-the-Elder_Two monkeys h_00020603_950w.jpg
Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) Two Monkeys, 1562, oak, 19.8 × 23.3 cm. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie / Christoph Schmidt


The Tower of Babel

Pieter Bruegel the Elder_The-Tower-of-Babel_2443__OK_Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) The Tower of Babel, after 1563?, oak panel, 59,9 × 74,6 cm. Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen © Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Photograph: Studio Tromp, Rotterdam


The Adoration of the Magi in the Snow

Pieter Bruegel the Elder_Cat_63_HiRes__Winterthur__The_Adoration_of_the_Magi_in_the_Snow_027_4f_ZS_Breugel_EKP_cropPieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) The Adoration of the Magi in the Snow, 1563, wood, 35 × 55 cm. Swiss Confederation, Federal Office for Culture, Collection, Oskar Reinhart ‘Am Römerholz’, Winterthur © Collection Oskar Reinhart ʻAm Römerholzʼ, Winterthur.

The Adoration of the Magi

Pieter Bruegel the Elder_Kat_950wPieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) The Adoration of the Magi, 1564, oak panel, 112.1 × 83.9 cm. London, The National Gallery © The National Gallery, London 2018

The Suicide of Saul

Pieter Bruegel the Elder_GG_1011_Gesamt_CD_950wPieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) The Suicide of Saul, 1562, oak panel, 33.5 × 55 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Picture Gallery © KHM-Museumsverband

The Return of the Herd

Pieter Bruegel the Elder_GG_1018_Gesamt_950wPieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) The Return of the Herd, 1565, oak, 117 × 159 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Picture Gallery © KHM-Museumsverband.

The Gloomy Day

Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) The Gloomy Day, 1565, oak panel, 118 × 163 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Picture Gallery © KHM-Museumsverband.

Hunters in the Snow

Pieter Bruegel the Elder_GG_1838_Stitch_Gesamt_950wPieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) Hunters in the Snow, 1565, oak panel, 117 × 162 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Picture Gallery © KHM-Museumsverband.

The Conversion of Saul

Pieter Bruegel the Elder_GG_3690_201311_CD_950wPieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) The Conversion of Saul, 1567, oak, 108 × 156 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Picture Gallery © KHM-Museumsverband.

 

Bruegel’s works arranged both chronologically and by theme

The exhibition allows visitors to study and appreciate his stylistic development and the impressive variety of his work. The galleries show their masterpieces as well as their series and groups brought together for the first time in centuries; the smaller adjoining rooms present the findings of the most recent and exhaustive technological analyses, offering a deep insight into the evolution of the works.

We see Bruegel’s artistic beginnings as a draughtsman and graphic artist, as well as his innovations and vital contributions to the evolution of landscape painting. Part of the exhibition focuses on his religious works, bringing together numerous masterpieces such as The Triumph of Death and Dulle Griet, both specially restored for this exhibition.

The Triumph of Death

Pieter-Bruegel-the-Elder_Cat_59_Hi-Res_nach_Restaurierung___Madrid__The_Triumph_of_Death_P001393.jpgPieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) The Triumph of Death. Probably after 1562, wood 117 × 162 cm. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado © Museo Nacional del Prado.

Dulle Griet

Pieter-Bruegel-the-Elder_DulleGriet_Presse_950w.jpgPieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) Dulle Griet, 1563, panel, 117.4 × 162 cm. Antwerp, Museum Mayer van den Bergh © Museum Mayer van den Bergh.

Christ carrying the Cross

For the first time, Christ carrying the Cross, his largest panel and one that has also retained its original format, will be on show unframed and displayed so that both its back and front are visible – as though visitors were looking over the painter’s shoulder, seeing and appreciating the fragility of the wooden support and how it was constructed, and the outstanding quality of handling and paint layer, their perfection being one of the reasons Bruegel’s paintings have survived four and a half centuries.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder_GG_1025_201212_CD_950wPieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) Christ Carrying the Cross, 1564, oak panel, 124 × 170 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Picture Gallery © KHM-Museumsverband

Christ Carrying the Cross
BACK VIEW

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Bruegel miniaturist

A smaller room showcases works featuring a wealth of miniaturelike details and looks at Bruegel’s training as a miniaturist; its focal point will be the first-ever confrontation of both depictions of The Tower of Babel since they were in the collection of Emperor Rudolf II.

Bruegel’s perceptiveness as a social critic

A selection of contemporary artefacts depicted in Battle between Carnival and Lent invites visitors to appreciate the wealth of details included in these compositions, to comprehend themeaning of the individual scenes, and to appreciate Bruegel’s unrivalled skill in capturing the material quality of depicted objects. We also question the painting’s traditional moralistic interpretation and showcase Bruegel’s perceptiveness as a social critic.

Battle between Carnival and Lent

Pieter Bruegel the Elder_GG_1016_201707_Gesamt_CD_950wPieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) The Battle between Carnival and Lent, 1559, oak panel, 118 × 164,5 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Picture Gallery © KHM-Museumsverband.

Children’s Games

Pieter Bruegel the Elder_GG_1017_122017_vorab_Gesamt_950wPieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) Children’s Games, 1560, oak panel, 118 × 161 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Picture Gallery © KHM-Museumsverband

The final gallery presents Bruegel’s late works, offering a nuanced look at the artist long called ‘Peasant Bruegel’. In addition to Peasant Wedding and Peasant Dance, the show includes his ‘legacy-painting’ The Magpie on the Gallows.

Peasant Wedding 

Pieter Bruegel the Elder_GG_1027_122017_vorab_Gesamt_950wPieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) Peasant Wedding, c. 1567, oak panel, 114 × 164 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Picture Gallery © KHM-Museumsverband


Peasant Dance

Pieter Bruegel the Elder_GG_1059_122017_vorab_Gesamt_950wPieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) Peasant Dance, c. 1568, oak panel, 114 × 164 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Picture Gallery © KHM-Museumsverband

The show’s final highlight is the first-ever juxtaposition of The Birdnester and the monumental drawing The Beekeepers.

The Birdnester

Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) The Birdnester, 1568, oak panel, 59.3 x 68.3 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Picture Gallery © KHM-Museumsverband

The Beekeepers

Pieter-Bruegel-the-Elder_Cat_87_HR_Berlin_Beekeepers_h_00028405_950.jpgPieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) The Beekeepers, c. 1568, pen and brown ink, 203 × 309 mm. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett © Foto: Kupferstichkabinett der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Foto: Jörg P. Anders.

The Temptation of Saint Anthony

Pieter Bruegel the Elder_Cat_20_HR_Oxford_Temptation_of_Saint_Anthony_WA_1863_162-aa_1_950wPieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 Breugel or Antwerp? – 1569 Brussels) The Temptation of Saint Anthony, c. 1556, pen and brush and brown and greybrown ink, 215 (right) / 216 (left) × 326 mm. Oxford, The Ashmolean Museum, Bequeathed by Frances Douce, 1834 © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.

 Big Fish Eat Little Fish

Pieter-Bruegel-the-Elder_Cat_21_HiRes_Albertina_Big_Fish_Eats_Little_Fish_DG1955_116_13x18.jpgPieter van der Heyden after Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Big Fish Eat Little Fish, 1557, engraving, 230 × 296 mm, first state of four, Vienna, Albertina © Vienna, Albertina

CATALOGUE

Bruegel_Cover_eng_500wBruegel.
The Hand of the Master

(Museum edition)

Authors: Elke Oberthaler, Sabine Pénot, Manfred Sellink, Ron Spronk, Alice Hoppe-Harnoncourt

Editor:
Sabine Haag, Vienna 2018
Paperback
304 pages

ISBN 978-3-99020-175-6 (English)
€ 39,95

The printed catalogue is complemented by an e-book containing five essays on Pieter Bruegel the Elder and his artistic oeuvre, focusing on the Bruegel collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum with particular reference to provenance, conservation history and past art-historical research.

 

 

PIETER BRUEGEL THE ELDER
(1525/30–1569)

Little is known about the life of Pieter Bruegel. It is thought that he trained in the studio of Pieter Coecke van Aelst in Antwerp and was also instructed in the art of miniature painting by the latter’s wife Mayken Verhulst. In 1551 he was admitted as an independent master to the Antwerp painters’ guild. From 1552 to 1554 he travelled through France and Italy. Back in Antwerp he worked for the publisher Hieronymus Cock. From 1562 he mainly worked as a painter. In 1563 he established himself in Brussels, where he died in 1569. Bruegel’s artistic career lasted a mere eighteen years or so. With his relatively small oeuvre, however, he revolutionized landscape and genre painting. In this, engravings after his works played a fundamental role, as unlike his paintings and drawings they were already widely disseminated by the 17th century. Hardly any other artist has undergone such changes in identity over the centuries: from the ‘new Bosch’, ‘Peasant Bruegel’, humanist, moralist or Christian painter to satirist and social critic. We repeatedly seek new paths of access into the work of this great master. An acute observer, Bruegel often holds up a mirror to the viewer, something that makes his work highly immediate and sometimes unsettling, thus giving it a fascinating connection with the here and now.


SHORT BIOGRAPHY

1525/30 Pieter Bruegel the Elder is born, possibly in Breugel or in Antwerp 

c. 1545–50 Bruegel probably receives artistic training in the studio of Pieter Coecke van Aelst (Antwerp and later Brussels), whose wife Mayken Verhulst instructs him in miniature painting.

1551 Bruegel paints the exterior (and Pieter Baltens the interior) of an altar for the glovers’ guild in Mechelen. This first documented work is not preserved. // Bruegel joins the Antwerp painters’ guild as a free master.

1552 Earliest preserved dated drawings.

1552–54 Journey to Italy, probably via Lyon, presumably with the painter Maerten de Vos and the sculptor Jacob Jongelinck.

1553–54 Stay in Rome, collaboration with Giulio Clovio. Travels to southern Italy as far as Reggio Calabria.

1554 Journey back to the Netherlands, probably via Venice and the Alps.

1554–63 Bruegel is established in Antwerp. He works principally as a draughtsman for the publishing house of Hieronymus Cock (‘Aux Quatre Vents’).

1557 Earliest preserved dated paintings.

1559 onwards Bruegel signs his works ‘BRVEGEL’ in Roman majuscule script, probably to emphasize the humanist claims of his art.

1562 Bruegel devotes himself increasingly to painting.

1563 Move to Brussels; marriage to Mayken Coecke, the daughter of Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Mayken Verhulst, in Notre-Dame dela Chapelle / Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-ter-Kapellekerk.

1563–68 Principally active as a painter in Brussels. Still working for Antwerp clients.

1564 Birth of his son Pieter.

1568 Birth of his son Jan. // Last dated works.

1569 Pieter Bruegel the Elder dies in Brussels. His grave is in Notre-Dame de la Chapelle / Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-ter-Kapellekerk.

The curators of the exhibition:
Elke Oberthaler:
Head of the Paintings Conservation Studio, Picture Gallery, Kunsthistorisches Museum

Sabine Pénot: Curator of Netherlandish and Dutch Paintings, Picture Gallery, Kunsthistorisches Museum
Manfred Sellink: General Director and Head Curator, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten (KMSKA), Antwerp, Belgium; Professor of Art History, University of Gent, Belgium
Ron Spronk: Professor of Art History, Queen’s University, Canada; Hieronymus Bosch Chair, Radboud Universiteit, Nijmegen, the Netherland
Alice Hoppe-Harnoncourt: Research Assistance

Lenders:
Albertina, Vienn

Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich, Alte Pinakothek
Bibliothèque royale de Belgique / Koninklijke Bibliotheek van België, Brussels
The British Museum, London
The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London
The Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement
Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris

The Frick Collection, New York
Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Trust Doria Pamphilj, Rome
Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt
The Lobkowicz Collections, Lobkowicz Palace, Prague Castle
Musée du Louvre, Paris
Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique / Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België, Brussels
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam
Museum Mayer van den Bergh, Antwerp
The National Gallery, London
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Upton House, The Bearsted Collection (National Trust)
The Phoebus Foundation, Antwerp
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Swiss Confederation, Federal Office for Culture, Collection
Oskar Reinhart ‘Am Römerholz’,
Winterthur

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Universiteit Leiden,
Prentenkabinet

Private Collecions

Cooperation Partner:
ALMA, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam
Bokrijk Museum, Genk
The Getty Foundation, Los Angeles
KIK-IRPA, Brussels
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario
Royal Collection, London
TU Vienna, Institut für Konstruktionswissenschaften und technische Logistik
Universum Digitalis, Brussels
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels
Vlaamse Kunstcollectie, Ghent

Exhibition design:
Tilo Perkmann and architettura21 ZT

GmbH, Serenella Zoppolat

KUNST HISTORISCHES MUSEUM WIEN
Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Wien     T +43 1 525 24 – 0
https://www.khm.at/en/

Pieter Bruegel the Elder_Pieter Bruegel the Elder_013_KHM_950w