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Jan Brueghel the Younger

View of village withs castle below, in a panoramic landscape

Panel: 52 x 80.5 cm

Bears on the back the seal of the city of Anvers

introduction

Very few of Jan Brueghel the Younger's large landscapes show such an abundance of detail in their composition. This vast panoramic expanse opens onto a distant blue-tinted landscape, while the foreground features a traditional Brabant scene, which this illustrious family of painters so loved to paint.

A group of peasants are busy unloading cards and opening parcels at the entrance to the village. The scene is features the main road of a highly picturesque village, who architecture is brilliantly reproduced. Starting with the small cattle pen, then the sloping roofs and the largest dwelling, the viewer travels up the road until they reach the church. Below, is a splendid castle surrounded by moats and harbouring a French-style garden at the back.

Here, the profusion of figures and details, and the sparkling colours are perfectly balanced, giving the painting a very elegant air. It has a rigorous structure and Brueghel innovates by significantly lowering the horizon line in such a way that the viewer is no longer looking down on the landscape, but is on the same level. The feeling of realism is also further emphasised by the choice of subject portrayed in the painting. As is the case here, everyday scenes replace the biblical, historical or mythological scenes that previously served as a pretext for landscape painting.

Jan Brueghel the Younger inherited this new concept of landscape from his father, Jan Brueghel the Elder, from whom he adopted the formulas, colours and quality of brushstroke. Note the contrast in this landscape between the seigniorial manor and the simplicity of the houses, just like in the landscape previously attributed to Jan Brueghel the Elder. If we compare the two, we can see the painter's same attention to detail and reality. He is careful to envelop this composition in a soft, warm light, while the rolling hills in the background merge into a pale and peaceful sky.


Provenance :
Private collection, Italy.