Among the most innovative and influential artists of his age, the beloved sixteenth-century Netherlandish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1525/30–1569) was also a remarkable draftsman and designer of prints. This exhibition includes the largest number of drawings by the artist ever assembled, in addition to some fifty prints designed by him, as well as a selection of drawings formerly attributed to Bruegel. Culled from European and North American public and private collections, this exhibition presents the largest number of Bruegel's drawings ever assembled and reflects recent advances in scholarship that have dramatically changed our view of the artist's work.
During the past two decades our conception of Bruegel's graphic oeuvre has changed dramatically. Most important, in the early 1990s, a large group of Alpine studies, long considered central masterpieces in the artist's work, were removed from his oeuvre because it was discovered that they were drawn on paper produced after the artist's death. In turn, a number of drawings that were once not considered to have been made by Bruegel are now accepted as by his hand. This exhibition examines this newly defined Bruegel and reasseses his importance and impact as a graphic artist.
Among Bruegel's foremost artistic achievements is the naturalistic rendering of landscape in pen drawings and engravings, which capture vast expanses of mountains and valleys. Many of his landscapes were created during and just after the artist's journey to Italy in 1552–53. The expansive Alpine vistas that he witnessed during that trip left a lasting impression on his work.
The exhibition has been organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.
An indemnity has been granted by the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.