Bruegel in Flanders

Pieter I Bruegel - De volkstelling te Bethlehem ©Royal Museums of Fine Arts Belgium, Brussels photo J. Geleyns - Ro scan
Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s home was in Flanders. While this brilliant Flemish master took his last breath in Brussels, he began his career in Antwerp. An important part of his oeuvre can still be found there. Discover Bruegel in Antwerp, Brussels and beyond.

Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels

Pieter Bruegel the Elder remains a mystery in many respects, but we do know his home town: Brussels. A large part of his oeuvre can still be found here. The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels (KMSKB) celebrate this fact with their imposing Bruegel Hall. Several of Bruegel’s masterpieces are on display, such as Winter Landscape with Ice-skaters and Bird-trap, The Census at Bethlehem and The Fall of the Rebel Angels. Accompanying these masterpieces are works by contemporaries and by his sons, Jan and Pieter.

Royal museum of Fine Arts Belgium (RMFA) © tom d

Royal Library of Belgium, Brussels

Bruegel is known for more than his brilliant paintings. He also left behind an impressive collection of drawings and prints. The Royal Library of Belgium offers a glimpse of this vibrant legacy. The KBR possesses ninety rare prints and three of the approximately 65 surviving drawings by the grand master. Keep a close eye on the KBR calendar. Occasionally, one or two of these gems crop up in exhibitions. You can also explore them without leaving the house. Access the KRB’s digital library to discover its full collection of Bruegel prints.

Museum Mayer Van den Bergh, Antwerp

Although Bruegel is known as a citizen of Brussels, the master also had links to Antwerp. This is the city in which he was educated, became an artist, and spent the first part of his professional life. A few of his works can be admired there to this day thanks to art collector Fritz Mayer van den Bergh (1858–1901).He bought Dulle Griet, then an unknown work, for next to nothing at an auction. Several years later he repeated this feat with Bruegel’s Twelve Proverbs, a series of wooden panels that portray common sayings. Both can still be found on display at the Museum Mayer van den Bergh in Antwerp, which is based around Fritz’s collection. Thanks to his clever purchasing, the whole world can now enjoy these Bruegel masterpieces.

Museum Mayer van den Bergh
Bornem castle

Bornem Castle & Chapel Church, Bornem and Brussels

You don’t necessarily have to be at a major museum to see Bruegel’s work. He is also honoured in lesser-known places. Bornem Castle, on the outskirts of Antwerp, is an excellent example. It is the home of one of the largest private collections of Bruegel engravings in the world. And at the Church of Our Lady of the Chapel in Brussels, you can say your final farewells. The master is believed to be resting in one of the mausoleums here. The grave was even graced by a painting by Rubens at the time, made at the request of Jan Brueghel, Pieter’s son. Unfortunately, the original has since moved abroad. A copy hangs in its place.


His brilliant landscapes, his splendid chronicles of life in his times, his sense of humour. Bruegel’s artistic identity had multiple facets. Where better to acquaint yourself with these nuances than Flanders?

Pieter Bruegel the Elder in Situ

Pieter Bruegel de Oude - Vuile bruid of de bruiloft van Mopsus en Nisa _©CedricVerhelst

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