Southern Cloister in a Valley 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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Southern Cloister in a Valley is a pen on ink artwork from 1552 by Pieter Bruegel the Elder who was from modern day Netherlands. He was highly skilled in a variety of mediums including painting and drawing.

If we study the composition itself, we find a row of hills in the far distance, all fairly bare of vegetation. A collection of trees can be seen around the foot of the hills, along with an elaborate building. There is then an open expanse of land before we come up to the nearest foreground, which features an array of trees, and a few human figures. Much of the detail feels loose and relaxed, suggesting that the artist was enjoying completing this piece and perhaps was just doing it for himself rather than as a commissioned piece. It may not be one of the most famous artworks from his career, but still offers us another insight into his talents as a landscape artist as well as yet another location from which he sought, and found, enough inspiration from which to work.

Drawing was a fundamental skill which all major artists would need to master during the Northern and Italian Renaissance. It was not until fairly recently that it was possible to be taken seriously without this ability, even if your work was mainly involved in a different medium. It was also about following the correct paths of artistic education, and those who did not educate themselves in this way should not be considered worthy of note. In the modern day we are certainly a lot more open minded about the routes by which people can arrive into the art world and, generally speaking, artists are now judged purely on the quality of the work that they present to us, rather than anything else about their own background.

This delightful landscape drawing is now in the collection of the Kupferstichkabinett Berlin in Germany. They focus on some of the past centuries of North European art and offer some highly valuable and artistically significant artworks across a number of different mediums, representing the rich diversity of this region's output. There are a number of drawings from high profile artists besides just the artwork displayed here, including Sandro Botticelli's illustrations of Dante's Divine Comedy. Other great names to be found here include Bosch, Friedrich, Rembrandt and also Kirchner from more recent times. It is an art institution that is growing in its significance but is already a major fixture within the itineries of Berlin tourists.