Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1525 to 1569, was a Netherlandish Renaissance painter and printmaker from Brabant, known for his landscapes and peasant scenes (so called genre painting). He is sometimes referred to as the Peasant Bruegel. He specialized in genre paintings populated by peasants, often with a landscape element, but he also painted religious works. Making the life and manners of peasants the main focus of a work was rare in painting in Bruegel's time, and he was a pioneer of the genre painting. His earthy, unsentimental but vivid depiction of the rituals of village life—including agriculture, hunts, meals, festivals, dances, and games—are unique windows on a vanished folk culture, though still characteristically of Belgian life and culture today, and a prime source of iconographic evidence about both physical and social aspects of 16th century life. For example, his famous painting Flemish Proverbs, originally The Blue Cloak illustrates dozens of then-contemporary aphorisms, many of which still are in use in current Flemish, French, English and Dutch, and Children's Games shows the variety of amusements enjoyed by young people. His winter landscapes of 1565 like. The Hunters in the Snow are taken as corroborative evidence of the severity of winters during the Little Ice Age.Using abundant spirit and comic power, he created some of the very early images of acute social protest in art history. Examples include paintings such as The Fight Between Carnival and Lent which was a satire of the conflicts of the Protestant Reformation, and engravings like The Ass in the School and Strongboxes Battling Piggybanks. On his deathbed, he reportedly ordered his wife to burn the most subversive of his drawings to protect his family from political persecution resulting from conflicts between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformation.
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