Landscape with the Flight into Egypt Pieter Bruegel Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Pieter Bruegel was born around 1525 and was a Dutch painter known for his Renaissance paintings.

He trained under a fellow Dutch paintern, Pieter Coecke van Aels. Bruegel later went on to marry his daughter, Mayken. After, his mentor's death, Bruegel joined the Antwerp painters' guild in 1551.

Bruegel was acknowledged as a master of realism. Most of his famous paintings are scenes of landscapes or peasant life.

Due to this, he was often known as 'Peasant Bruegel'. Bruegel also covered some unusual themes such as proverbs. He made paintings such as The Blind Leading the Blind and Netherlandish Proverbs.

He loved painting scenes of events and also dabbled in some religious iconography.

Landscape with the Flight into Egypt is one of his religion-based paintings in which he depicts the Holy Family (Mary, Joseph, and Jesus) fleeing Bethleham due to persecution. Mary is riding the donkey, dressed in a vivid red. She is carrying Jesus in the swathes of her garment, while Joseph guides the donkey forward.

The theme was very popular with 16th century painters, but Bruegel's depiction stands out because of the stark North European landscape. The background nature dominates in the painting while the figures of the refugees meld easily into the landscape.

It is believed that the idol falling down from its shrine to the willow below symbolises the downfall of paganism with the birth of Christ. The religious narrative is very clear in this painting.

Landscape with the Flight into Egypt was commissioned by Cardinal Perronot de Granvelle, who was an art collector and had commissioned several works with Bruegel. The painting was later owned by the artist Peter Paul Rubens and currently it is in the Courtauld Gallery in London.