2019 marks the 450th anniversary of the death of Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c 1525/30 – 1569). In honor of this occasion the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna is installing the world’s first ever major monograph exhibition to the artist widely regarded as the 16th century’s greatest Netherlandish painter.
Just over forty paintings by Bruegel’s own hand have been preserved to this day, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna owns by far the largest collection, with twelve panels. This is due not least to the fact that, already in the 16th century, Habsburg collectors had recognized the exceptional quality and originality of Bruegel’s painting. Yet Bruegel’s popularity is also attributed to the stunning compositions themselves, which are often moralising and always teeming with characters, inviting the viewer to reflect on the multi-layered complexity of the image contents. In museums and private collections, Bruegel’s works are rightly held to be among the most precious, but also the most fragile inventories. To date, the vast majority of the wooden panels have never been loaned for exhibition purposes.
The exhibition is the result of a research project on Pieter Bruegel the Elder which the Kunsthistorisches Museum has started in 2012. The project is headed by Elke Oberthaler (Head of the Conservation Studio, Paintings Department, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria) and Sabine Pénot (Curator of Netherlandish and Dutch Paintings, Paintings Department, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria). The exhibition is being developed in collaboration with the co-curators Professor Manfred Sellink (General director and head curator, Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, Antwerpen (Antwerp), Belgium,) and Professor Ron Spronk (Professor of art history, Queen’s University – Department of Art, Kingston, Canada; Hieronymus Bosch Chair, Radboud Universiteit – Art history department, Nijmegen, Netherlands).
For more information: https://www.khm.at/en/visit/exhibitions/bruegel/