450 years Pieter Bruegel in 2019

Brussels and Bruegel are inextricably linked. Not only did the most important part of his life took place in Brussels but he is also buried here and you can still admire an important part of his oeuvre in Brussels’ finest museums.

The artist Pieter Bruegel

Pieter Bruegel (1525?-1569) is widely regarded as the 16th century’s greatest Netherlandish painter. He is known for his landscapes and peasant scenes (so-called genre painting). Already in the 16th century, Habsburg collectors had recognised the exceptional quality and originality of Bruegel’s imagery and bought his works. Bruegel’s popularity is also down to the stunning compositions themselves, which are often moralising and always teeming with characters, inviting the viewer to reflect on the multi-layered complexity of the image’s contents. Paintings such as ’Proverbs’, ‘Children’s Games’, Dulle Griet (Mad Meg), ‘The Wedding Dance’ and ‘The Land of Cockaigne’ are very recognisable and adored all over the world.

  • Breugel and Brussels

  • To be closer to the centre of money and power and thus potential clients, Bruegel moved to Brussels in 1563 to established himself in the Marolles. At that time the Chapel area, now known as the Marolles, was all but a working-class neighbourhood. The spacious house in which he lived was located in one of the richest streets in Brussels. In the 16th century, Brussels was one of the most important political centres in Europe. Charles V had one if his main residences at the Coudenberg Palace, now a museum, at the nearby Mont des Arts. Brussels was a real hub for artists and a new urban nobility. Be sure to pass by the so called ‘Bruegel’s house’, an original 16th century house!

  • Breugel in 2019

  • Brussels and the surrounding Pajottenland served as a great inspiration for Bruegel: two-thirds of his total of forty paintings were painted there! A few minutes’ walk from the Marolles, on the Mont des Arts, lived his powerful patrons. Today it houses an important part of Bruegel’s work: after the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium possesses the largest collection of paintings by Bruegel, and the Royal Library holds no fewer than 90 prints!  All these treasures will be exhibited 2019 so that they can be admired fully. After his death, Bruegel was buried in the Chapel Church in the Marolles, where the funeral monument erected in his honour can still be visited. To get a feel of this vibrant period in Brussels’ history, a visit to the Halle Gate Museum is a must!

  • Reason enough for Brussels to devote a great many events to this world-famous artist in connection with the 450th anniversary of his death. In 2019, various organisations are planning guided Bruegel walks that visit all the locations related to him and the fascinating period during which he lived. Come and (re)discover Bruegel’s world and his work in the historic heart of Brussels!