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Pieter Brueghel the Younger

Brussels 1564 – Antwerp 1638

He was the eldest son of Pieter Brueghel the Elder and settled early on in Antwerp where he received his training in the studio of the landscape artist, Gillis van Coninxloo. He was made a master in 1585. His father died in 1569 when Pieter Brueghel the Younger was only five years old, and was thus unable to initiate his son in painting. His mother, the daughter of the painter Pieter Coecke d’Alost and herself a painter, died when he was in his teens, but it seems she contributed to his apprenticeship. In 1588 he married Elisabeth Goddelet with whom he had seven children.

He was nicknamed "Hell" Brueghel even though scenes of hell were an exception in his work. There were two sides to Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s work. In the beginning, he returned to a great number of his father’s paintings and developed several versions. He added his personal touch by introducing variants, including the importance he gave to landscape, as well as his own colours that were livelier and of greater purity than those used by his father. The second period began around 1615 - 1620. He asserted his personality through the creation of original paintings, which met with great success from the outset, also inspiring several replicas. His son Pieter Brueghel III and Frans Snyders, the famous painter of still lifes and animals, were his students. Besides prolonging the work of his father, Pieter Brueghel II was held in high esteem in the 17th century, in particular because of his fine brushwork and the purity of his colours. He influenced every Flemish painter of his era. He had a particularly fruitful career, extending over nearly half a century, and was highly successful even during his lifetime.