Pieter Bruegel the Elder, nicknamed 'Peasant Bruegel' was amongst the most significant and exciting painter in the Northern Europe Renaiisance that flowered in the middle part of the sixteenth century. Although his nickname was "Peasant Bruegel", he was certainly no peasant and it refers more to the subjects of his paintings than to himself.
As well as being among the greatest, Breugel is also amongst the most enigmatic, even the date and place of his birth are obscured by the mists of time. Many however accept that he was born near the town of Breda som time between 1525- 1530.
To add to the mystery that swirls around him, som time around 1559 he changed the way he spelled his surname from 'Brueghel', to 'Bruegel'. No one knows the reasons nbehind this change and, even more perplexing is the fact that his sons retained 'h' in their names.
It's very probable that as a youngster Bruegel was apprenticed to Pieter Coeck van Aelst (1502–1550). Van Aelst was a leading leading light in Antwerp artistic circles and as well as being an accomplished painter, he was also a sculptor, architect, and designer of tapestry and stained glass. Some time around 1563 Bruegel married van Aelst's daughter, Catherine.
Breugel's talents and reputation developed quickly and, in 1551 he became a Master of the Antwerp Guild. From around 1551 to around 1554, Breugel travelled, mainly, to Italy southern Europe and Switzerland where he made maultiple drawings of the Swiss Alps.
When he returned to Antwerp (late 1554-1555) he went to work for Hieronymus Cock (1510-1570), the Antwerp engraver and publisher of prints.
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