The Life of Pieter the Elder Bruegel
Pieter Brueghel the Elder or Bruegel (c.1525 – 1569) was a Flemish painter known for his landscapes and peasant scenes. There are records that he was born in Broghel near Breda, but it is unsure whether the Dutch town of Breda or the Belgian town of Bree, called Breda in Latin, is meant. From 1559 he dropped the 'h' from his name and started signing his paintings as Bruegel.
He was an apprentice of Pieter Coecke van Aelst, whose daughter Mayke he later married, and was in 1551 accepted as a master in the painters' guild of Antwerp. He travelled to Italy soon after, and then returned to Antwerp before settling in Brussels permanently 10 years later. He died there on 9 September 1569.
He was the father of Pieter Brueghel the Younger and Jan Brueghel the Elder who both became painters, but as they were still infants when their father died; neither received any training from him.
Bruegel specialised in landscapes populated by peasants, painted in a simpler style than the Italianate art that prevailed at the time. The most obvious influence on his art is the older Dutch master Hieronymus Bosch. He is nicknamed 'Peasant Brueghel' to distinguish him from other members of the Brueghel dynasty, but is also the one generally meant when the context does not make clear which "Brueghel" is being referred to.
He is often credited as being the first western painter to paint landscapes for their own sake, rather than as a backdrop to a religious allegory. His winter landscapes of 1565 are corroborative evidence of the severity of winters during the Little ice age.