Loaning Jan Brueghel the Elder

Jan Brueghel the Elder: A Magnificent Draughtsmen

Lobkowicz Palace, December 6th, 2019

On the 450th anniversary of the death of Peter Bruegel the Elder, arguably the most prominent Flemish painter of the 16th century, Brussels and Antwerp will commemorate the crucial role this innovative painter had in landscape painting. The Snijders&Rockoxhuis museum in Antwerp is organizing an exhibition of works by his son, Jan Brueghel the Elder titled, Jan Brueghel the Elder: A Magnificent Draughtsman.

This is the first exhibition solely focused on the work of Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568 - 1625). In the past, his works on paper have largely been presented as supplements to his paintings, and yet it was in his drawings that he introduced some of his most revolutionary artistic solutions to the rendering of landscapes – solutions that were to influence an entire generation of artists in both the Southern and Northern Netherlands. The exhibition is intended to facilitate further scholarly research around the development of landscape art in around 1600. This has been made possible by the work of Dr Teréz Gerszi and Dr Louisa Wood Ruby, curators of the exhibition, with the assistance of Bernadett Tóth. 

In support of the exhibition, the Lobkowicz Collections loaned the St. Martin Dividing His Cloak with a Beggar painting, which is displayed in the permanent exhibition at Nelahozeves Castle. The curators of the exhibition have decided to hang this painting near Brueghel’s three drawings to emphasize the close connection between the pieces, even though they were made using different techniques.

Jan Brueghel the Elder used the same environment for two very distinct scenes. The drawing - The End of a Village (Musée du Louvre, Paris), was finished in the early 1600s and its main theme was the daily life of a village, such as trade. In the year 1611, Jan Brueghel the Elder returned to this exact village environment, featuring the same buildings, to depict the religious scene of St. Martin.

In another drawing – Village Street with Saint Martin (c. 1603 - 1605, National Museum, Stockholm), we can see a group of people crowding around St. Martin, closely resembling a scene from a painting in the Lobkowicz Collections.

Lucie Vojtíšková, Curator of The Lobkowicz Collections, provides her insight on the works displayed in the exhibition, “These works of art are a great example of one of the artist’s approaches – using the same theme, identical environment and similar characters over several years, for both paintings and drawings”.