The Garden of Eden by Brueghel the Elder and Rubens

The Garden of Eden by Brueghel the Elder and Rubens
The Garden of Eden by Brueghel the Elder and Rubens

Flemish painters Jan Brueghel the Elder and Peter Paulus Rubens collaborated on several occasions, even signing works together. There are several examples of this shared authorship, such as in his series of The senses with paintings dedicated to sight, hearing or smell.


The Garden of Eden by Brueghel and Rubens

And they also shared canvas in this work from 1615, which is one of the great jewels treasured by the Maurithuis Museum in The Hague, in the Netherlands.

Both sign the work and already in that inscription are the keys to know who did what. It can be read on the left “Petri Pauli Rubens FIGR”, and on the other side “IBrueghel FEC.”. It can therefore be deduced that Rubens painted the figures, while Brueghel was the author of the landscape and numerous animals. But in addition to the information in the rubrics, the very different technique that both painters had also differentiates them.

When we look at the characters of Adam and Eve, we clearly see brushstrokes much broader than those that make up the vegetation and animal repertoire. Which also makes us distinguish that not all the animals were made by Brueghel, since Rubens' style is distinguished by elements such as the horse, the snake or the tree itself from which the apple is plucked, causing original sin.

InActually, Jan Brueghel the Elder (one of the sons of the great Pieter Bruegel the Elder), was a true specialist in painting flowers and fauna. Much of the output that came out of his Antwerp workshop focused on those themes. And it was in that Belgian city, where he arrived after a long stay in Rome and Milan, that he met his neighbor Rubens, with whom not only did he make up to twenty collaborations, they also became friends.

The scene tells us about the moment in which Eve gives Adam a taste of the sinful apple. But that biblical passage is the perfect excuse to paint a fabulous Eden or paradise, where there is a truly fantastic repertoire of fauna, in which Brueghel's fine brush expands on endless details, whether it is when representing a great camel to paint the tiny feathers of a bird.

Undoubtedly this type of compositions was a magnificent showcase to show the artistic virtues of these two masters. They are spectacular paintings, overwhelming. And of course, as both of you were highly valued painters, when they combined their talent they knew how to get a succulent price for their work, and great fortunes were capable of paying disproportionate sums for it. Both during the lifetime of the two artists, and later, since on the same canvas there is the signature of two of the greatest painters of the flemish art of the Baroque.

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