His works were usually based on religious themes, lifestyle of the peasants, or proverbs that were popular at the time. Bruegel was trained by the famous Dutch painter, Pieter Coecke van Aelst, and he even went on to marry van Aelst's daughter, Mayken. He was also influenced to some extent by the works of his peer, Hieronymus Bosch. In Triumph of Death, Bruegel was depicting the idea of death that was ever-present in Europe.
Between the two plague epidemics that overtook the continent in recent years, and the clash between the Church traditionalists or Catholics and the Reformers, as well as the religious wars between Spain and Flanders, death was an everyday occurrence that people had to deal with. The painting shows a landscape of death. The scenery is bleak and dead, with no life blooming in any form. There are fires burning in the background and an army of skeletons are taking apart everything.
They are going after the living, who are unable to fight back. One of the interesting things about this painting is that it depicts people from different backgrounds, including soldiers, peasants, noblemen, and even priests. Another thing of interest is the fact that the painting shows daily life scenes and objects such as playing cards and a mechanical clock. Triumph of Death was painted in 1562. Today, it hangs in Museo del Prado in Madrid, which obtained it in 1827. It is considered to be one of the most terrifying paintings in Western art, a familiar and timeless depiction of war, death, and destruction that still resonates with us today.
Tom Gurney in an art history expert. He received a BSc (Hons) degree from Salford University, UK, and has also studied famous artists and art movements for over 20 years. Tom has also published a number of books related to art history and continues to contribute to a number of different art websites. You can read more on Tom Gurney here.