Today is the 398th Anniversary of His Death, Flemish Painter Jan Brueghel the Elder

Today is the 398th Anniversary of His Death, Flemish Painter Jan Brueghel the Elder

398 years have passed since the death of Flemish painter Jan Brueghel I, who died on January 13, 1625.

Jan Brueghel I, who is known as Jan Brueghel the Elder by today’s writers because he has the same name as his son, set an example for many painters both in his period and after him.

Jan Brueghel I was born in Brussels in 1568. He lost his father (Pieter Bruegel) in 1569 and his mother (Mayken Verhulst) in 1578, so he stayed with his grandmother for a while.1

Jan Brueghel I went to Italy in 1589 and lived for a time in Naples, Rome and Milan. During his days in Italy, he collaborated with the Flemish painter Paul Bril and Johann Rottenhammer, famous for his mythological paintings. In the following years, he made many paintings with Johann Rottenhammer.

“Rust op de vlucht naar Egypte”
🖼 I. Jan Brueghel & Johann Rottenhammer, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Jan Brueghel I soon became friends with Federico Borromeo, who became both an art collector and a cardinal. These friendships continued throughout his life. Jan Brueghel I was greatly influenced by Federico Borromeo’s ideas, especially for the beauty of the animal world. As a matter of fact, he clearly demonstrated this effect in many of his works.

“Dorpsrand met molen”
🖼 I. Jan Brueghel, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Returning to Antwerp in 1596, Jan Brueghel I married Isabella de Jode in 1599. He had a son and a daughter from this marriage, but unfortunately Isabella de Jode died in 1603. Left alone with two children, Jan Brueghel I married Catharina van Mariënburg in 1605 and accelerated his artistic development.

Jan Brueghel I later became one of the most popular painters in Antwerp, along with Peter Paul Rubens. The two artists created many paintings together. Animals and flowers were also prominent in these works.

“Het visioen van de heilige Hubertus”
🖼 I. Jan Brueghel, Prado Museum

The works of Jan Brueghel I mostly consisted of still lifes of flowers and nature landscapes. However, he also painted religious/mythological landscapes for distinguished collectors and aristocrats. In these works, which are described as paradise landscapes, the artist was inspired by Genesis. In most of these paintings, animals that cannot live in the same climate are together.

“De intrede van de dieren in de ark van Noach”
🖼 I. Jan Brueghel, Private collection, Belgium

Unfortunately, Jan Brueghel I died on January 13, 1625, at the age of 57, due to the cholera disease he had contracted. Inheriting his father’s workshop, Jan Brueghel II continued his father’s artistic style in many of his works.

Jan Brueghel I deeply influenced not only his children, but also many famous painters after him with the artistic style he developed.

Notes

  • To the left of the cover image is Peter Paul Rubens’ painting of Jan Brueghel I and his family.
  • The painting “De terugkeer uit de oorlog: Mars ontwapend door Venus” on the right of the cover image was made by Peter Paul Rubens and IJan Brueghel I.


  1. “De Zotte Schilders”, Eric de Bruyn & Ward Peinen, University of Virginia, ISBN: 9789053494233^
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