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Bruegel Artist Study


The Artist of Renaissance Peasant Life

In selecting artists for your Charlotte Mason styled artist study, it's nice to have some of the leg work already done for you. This page is that kind of help. I've chosen a prominent artist -- Bruegel-- and assembled representative pieces of his art to give you one term's worth of picture study. Besides that, there are plenty of other study helps -- books, videos, and printables.

Bruegel is an artist of the Northern European Renaissance of the 15th-16th centuries. Bruegel was from Belgium and, like his fellows from Germany and the Netherlands, is known for his realistic style and his portrayal of the everyday life of peasants. In fact, Bruegel's work is so realistic that costumers use his paintings to gather inspiration for theater costumes and period dress.

Bruegel's emphasis on daily life makes his art very accessible to children. In fact, some works are full of intricate detail like a Renaissance version of Where's Waldo.

A Video of Bruegel's Art

This video has pleasant background music and an assortment of Bruegel's artwork. You can use this video as an introductory overview or as a concluding wrap-up for your Bruegel artist study.

Daily Scenes From the Renaissance

For your Bruegel artist study, a collection of art prints is essential. You will need at least six and possibly twelve or more. Charlotte Mason recommended studying one piece of art each week for an entire term. Some people alter this format and take a unit study approach. Others (like us) study a work of art daily. The choice is yours. The main point is to be consistent in exposing your children to fine art of one artist so that they become familiar with that artist's style.

Here are some very famous paintings by Pieter Bruegel. These would give a good overview of his types of work. Either save these to your computer and look at the screen, or use a print version such as the book linked below. Because of the detailed nature of Bruegel's paintings, using a print version is preferred. Often the digital images are inadequate for narrowing in on the small vignettes in each work of art.


These paintings are taken from Olga's Gallery, a wonderful art resource.

1. Peasant Wedding

Notice the detail images taken from Peasant Wedding.

2. Children's Games

Notice the detail images found on the overall Bruegel page.

A great addition to the study of this piece is this video showing the games in this painting.

3. Numbering (Census) at Bethlehem

4. Tower of Babel

5. Hunters in the Snow

6. Haymaking

Find detail images here.

Scroll to Continue

7. The Flemish Proverbs

8. The Adoration of the Kings

9. Landscape with Christ Appearing to the Apostles at the Sea of Tiberias

10. The Bay of Naples

11. Two Chained Monkeys

12. The Corn Harvest


An Art Spine for Bruegel

Bruegel Activities

Art Reproductions

Because of the extreme detail in so many of Bruegel's paintings, if you choose to create a reproduction, it may be best to zero in on a small area. Select just one or two people to sketch. Otherwise a reproduction may feel truly overwhelming.


Art Analysis

Choose a piece of art to study intently. The paintings with a myriad of people work well with this activity, something like a Renaissance "Where's Waldo?" Use a magnifying glass if necessary to identify all the nuances of activity going on. Research Renaissance activities portrayed in the paintings, make lists, or write descriptions.

Writing Assignments

Choose a couple of characters in a painting and tell a story about them, based on what you see. Use your imagination and maybe even tie their story into that of other people pictured in the painting.

Getting to Know... - Artist Series

Bruegel Teaching Printables

  • A Study of Proverbs
    This study includes a painting by Bruegel called "Proverbs" that depicts over 100 different Flemish proverbs. The PDF includes a guide and list of 19 of them, complete with the Flemish saying, an English translation, and English equivalent expression
  • Pieter Bruegel the Elder
    The neat part of this PDF is the section with thumbnails of Bruegel's art. These would be great for notebooking or lapbooking.
  • Bruegel Notebooking Pages from The Notebooking Fairy
  • Bruegel Biography
    This excerpt in PDF format is taken from the book linked in the sidebar titled Lives of the Artists: Masterpieces, Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought.
  • Coloring Page for Winter
    This coloring pages is filled with detail and would take some time to completely fill in.

Bruegel Picture Book


When at all possible, include a visit to an art gallery into your artist study. Seeing art in person is a different experience from seeing prints in a book.

In 2011 my daughter and I had the opportunity to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City where we saw original paintings by Bruegel among other great artists. It was a fabulous experience, one that our years of Charlotte Mason artist study prepared us for.

To locate Bruegel originals in museums, visit Artcyclopedia's list.



SandyPeaks on July 17, 2011:

All kids should see and study his paintings - they're so detailed they bring the past to life!

moonlitta on July 13, 2011:

Remarkable artist, his painting were used as far as I can remember as an illustration on Kafka's covers on America and The Trial in an edition...

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