Pieter Bruegel Quotes Buy Art Prints Now
from Amazon

* As an Amazon Associate, and partner with Google Adsense and Ezoic, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

One of the true stars of the 16th century art scene, there are sadly very few attributable quotes from the career of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, or his son for that matter

There were art historians prevolent at that time, but most would concentrate on the output - the paintings. The artists themselves received less attention and would certainly not have their own opinions documented on a regular basis.

Famous Quotes by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Because the world is so faithless, I go my way in mourning.

Quotes about Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Pieter Bruegel was the most significant artist of Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting, a painter and printmaker from Brabant, known for his landscapes and peasant scenes (so called genre painting); he was a pioneer in making both types of subject the focus in large paintings... He was a formative influence on Dutch Golden Age painting and later painting in general in his innovative choices of subject matter, as one of the first generation of artists to grow up when religious subjects had ceased to be the natural subject matter of painting.


Those painters who, painting graceful creatuers in the prime of life, seek to superimpose on the painted subject some further element of charm or elegance sprung from their free imagination disfigure the entire portrayed creation, are untrue to their model, and thereby deviate to an equal extent from true beauty. Our Bruegel is free from this fault.

Abraham Ortelius

Pieter Bruegel became famous for his painted landscapes, and for his interiors on themes traditionally associated with engravings and manuscript illuminations which, like his Biblical narratives, are crowded with anecdotal detail. The Gallery's (The National Gallery's) work is an uncharacteristic upright panel. It clearly shows the influence of the wit and menace of Bruegel's predecessor Bosch.

The National Gallery, London, UK

In Brueghel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

W.H. Auden in a 1938 poem titled Musée des Beaux Arts

Ignore the art market – there is only one Bruegel that matters... Pieter Bruegel the Elder is the only genius in his family – so why is the UK being flooded with the inferior work of his offspring?... The Holburne Museum’s new exhibition claims to be "the UK’s first exhibition devoted to the Bruegel dynasty," but this Flemish family get all too much attention, from high-profile sales to campaigns to "save" their art... Stop this dishonest Brueghel boosting now. It stops us getting a clear view of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, one of the most moving and humane of all artists. This is the kind of obfuscation that puts people off great art – and why should anyone make the effort, if its supposed guardians apparently can’t see the difference between genius and mediocrity?

Jonathan Jones, TheGuardian.com

The scene [Bruegel's 'Landscape with the Fall of Icarus'] is filled with a vast field, and a cow and a farmer plowing. In the left-hand corner is a tiny ocean the size of a palm, and there, I can barely make it out, the two legs of a man who fell headlong into the sea. This is called the Fall of Icarus. Compared to everyday life, the fall of an idealist who flew too high with candle-wax wings is an unremarkable tragedy.

Hwang Sŏk-yŏng, The Old Garden