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Pieter Balten

1525 – Antwerp – 1598

Pieter Balten registered with the guild in Antwerp as a master in 1540, eleven years earlier than Pieter Bruegel the Elder. He had already worked with Pieter Bruegel on the triptych for the Rombaut church in Malines before entering the corporation of painters. This shows the relationship that existed between the two masters very early on.

Although the influence and genius of Pieter Bruegel is preponderant, we cannot deny the existence of a mutual influence and a clear interaction throughout their entire careers. Later on, Pieter Brueghel the Younger did not hesitate to find inspiration in the paintings and drawings of Balten to fill out his own works. This artist was entirely dedicated to a genre that became very popular during his time: the picturesque traditions of peasant life. He was one of the first to portray the bustling crowds found at village fairs and celebrations. His highly coloured and energetically painted figures have a sense of comedy and farce. The style of Pieter Balten is characterised by clearly and energetically defined forms, and audacious colours for the time, such as bright red, which makes the figures stand out from the background and, in particular, communicate the exuberant gaiety associated with the joys of village life.