This fascinating full-length study examines all works by the great Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel within the wider setting of art during his lifetime.
The recent rediscovery in Spain of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s lost painting, The Wine of Saint Martin’s Day, has created even more interest in this much-loved artist, who was one of the Netherlands’ two great masters of satire and fantasy, along with Hieronymus Bosch. Although these two artists never met each other—Bruegel was born around 1525, a decade after Bosch’s death—numerous features link them; indeed, Bruegel painted several demon-infested hellscapes directly inspired by the older master, and he was known in Antwerp as a “second Bosch.” But Bruegel is most famous for his peasant scenes, often humorous and packed with anecdote, and for his landscapes, which poignantly evoke Nature’s changing seasons. His legacy to Netherlandish art was the enduring popularity of both these genres, as well as the artistic dynasty he founded, beginning with his painter sons Pieter the Younger and Jan Brueghel.
Critics have often remarked how Bruegel’s art, so keenly observed and richly detailed, seems to preserve a world in miniature. In this new monograph, Larry Silver, an eminent historian of Northern Renaissance art, serves as our guide to that world. He leads us expertly through Bruegel’s complex and fascinating iconography, allowing us to see his paintings and drawings from the same perspective as his sixteenth-century countrymen. Silver situates Bruegel within the visual culture of his time—exploring, for example, his relationship with the print publisher Hieronymus Cock—and within the broader context of Netherlandish history. All of Bruegel’s surviving paintings are reproduced here, with many full-page details, as well as all of his prints and representative works by his contemporaries and followers.
This volume on Bruegel complements Silver’s widely praised monograph on Hieronymus Bosch, which was published by Abbeville Press in 2006. These two books are the most authoritative and best-illustrated studies of their respective subjects, and together they present us with a panorama of Netherlandish art’s emergence into the distinctive form of the Northern Renaissance.
"Art historian Silver follows his magnificent Hieronymus Bosch (2006) with an equally capacious and gorgeously produced volume devoted to Bruegel... he astutely explores Bruegel's phenomenal gift for surreal, demonic, yet droll allegories; his encylopedic renderings of everyday Netherlandish peasant life; and his unconventional religious paintings.” -- Booklist
"Art historian Larry Silver assembles a life retrospective of the artist in this dense, comprehensive, and superbly organized art book." -- US Review of Books
"A magnificent volume on the Netherlandish painter... in a lush large format... that makes visible the craft and imagination in Bruegel’s hellish, quotidian, and amusing compositions of crowds and compelling individuals." -- Harvard Magazine
'"Pieter Bruegel,' a superb and sumptuous monograph by the scholar Larry Silver, is an object of beauty in its own right. This large-format volume presents all 40 or so of Bruegel's surviving paintings and a wide selection of his drawings and prints in color plates that render tone and hue with scrupulous accuracy. Mr. Silver's text offers an indispensable introduction to Bruegel's achievement." -- The Wall Street Journal
"The spectacular Pieter Bruegel is filled with gorgeous reproductions of Bruegel’s entire oeuvre in various media, as well as abundant scholarly commentary." -- The Pennsylvania Gazette
"In this beautifully produced, oversize volume, senior art historian Silver presents a thorough and complete overview of the great Netherlandish master, detailing the sources and development of his style, the range of his influence, and describing in detail his prints, drawings, and paintings." -- Reference & Research Book News
"Each chapter showcases Silver's facility at decoding and telling Bruegel's many stories, addressing equally the demands of scholarship and the growing public appetite; while the book's meticulous production values create an exquisite pictorial museum of an individual career, and the century of art that encompassed it. If one were to own only a single book on Bruegel, this is the one to have." -- Historians of Netherlandish Art
"Lavishly illustrated and with illuminating comparative paintings, [Silver's book] presents learned, clear, and convincing explanations of many obscure but significant details in the complex paintings." -- The New Criterion
"This is a magnificent book. Heavy, but magnificent." -- museumVIEWS
Winner, Art category -- 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Award