Bruegel's Eye: reconstructing the landscape

2019 is the 450th anniversary of the death of Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The world-famous painter lived in Brussels and visited the Pajottenland to find inspiration. Dilbeek is celebrating this with an open-air exhibition featuring works by internationally renowned artists and designers.

An arts project about and through the landscape

The open-air exhibition in the Pajottenland will catapult Bruegel into the 21st century. Via a walking route, you can see through the eyes of the painter as he produced his impressive landscape paintings. Bruegel painted the chapel of Sint-Anna-Pede and the watermill of Sint-Gertrudis-Pede. These monuments form the starting and resting point for a walk of around 7 km along 15 installations.

© Filip Dujardin   © Filip Dujardin

Pictures: Filip Dujardin

About Bruegel and the Pajottenland

Not a lot is actually known about Bruegel himself, except that he died in Brussels in 1569. In the previous year, he painted two paintings depicting buildings located in Dilbeek. The chapel of Sint-Anna-Pede is easily recognisable in The Blind Leading the Blind. Within walking distance of the chapel of Sint-Anna lies the restored watermill of Sint-Gertrudis-Pede. According to some sources, the 16th-century version of this mill can be seen in The Magpie on the Gallows.

Bruegel incorporated a unique perspective into his paintings, looking from high above at an artificially composed landscape with a dramatic scenographic effect. He introduced a unique way of looking at the Brabant landscape. In fact, he did not paint 'life as it was', but composed and distorted his landscapes like a Photoshopper avant la lettre.

We assume that during his travels to Italy he made sketches of the Alps and incorporated them into his paintings, and we likewise assume that he came from Brussels to the Pajottenland while walking to draw the missing puzzle pieces of his famous landscape paintings.

© Napels, Museo Nazionale di CapodimonteDe parabel van de blinden_ © Napels, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte  De ekster op de galg © Darmstadt, Hessisches Landesmuseum

1. 'The Blind Leading the Blind' © Napels, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte
2. 'The Magpie on the Gallows' © Darmstadt, Hessisches Landesmuseum

Flemish Masters

Bruegel's Eye: reconstructing the landscape is part of the Flemish Masters of Tourism Flanders.