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Pieter Bruegel - Drawing the World

Category: Exhibition 20. September 2017

In our days, Pieter Bruegel the Elder is mostly known as a painter, famous for paintings like „The Peasant Wedding“ or „The Tower of Babel“. However, he started his career as a draftsman and etcher, now the Albertina Museum in Vienna shows, under the title „Bruegel. Drawing the World“, a comprehensive view on the drawing and graphic print ouevre of Bruegel. Among the exhibits, there are some of his best drawings from the inventories of the Albertina.

The drawings and prints illustrate how critical Bruegel‘s outlook was on his era, with all its turmoil – wars of religion, inquisition, social injustice.

The exhibition was curated by Eva Michel, during her in-depth research for this project she discovered works by the artist in the Albertina’s inventories that were unknown till now. They were restored and are now on display for the first time in this show. Among them there is an etching of a view of Antwerp, dated 1557. At the age of 30, Bruegel had settled in this important economic centre after returning from a journey to Italy.

This journey had a significant influence on his landscape drawings, after his earlier imaginary panoramic landscapes he then developed a more intimate style of nature observation of forests, mountains or rivers.

The life and work of Pieter Bruegel is presented in the related artistic and historic context, supported by confrontations with works by precursors and contemporaries like Hieronymus Bosch, Albrecht Dürer, Jan Wierix or Albrecht Altdorfer.

On display there are also moralizing series of pictures about sins and virtues, commissioned by his publisher in Antwerp, Hieronymus Cock. His portrait is also presented in this exhibition.

Time and again Bruegel used his art to sharply criticise his era, like in the pictures „Big Fish Eat Little Fish“ and „The Battle of the Moneybags and the Strongboxes“.
In one of his most famous pictures, „The Painter and the Buyer“, Bruegel thematizes the philistines of his time, he shows a clueless art buyer with his hand in a money purse, peeking over the shoulder of a sullen-looking artist at work.
This picture is also part of the exhibition, continuing until December 3rd, 2017.

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