From the Courtauld Gallery, 19 November 2015
Despite his status as the most important Netherlandish painter of the sixteenth century, Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c.1525-1569) remains an elusive artist: fewer than forty paintings are attributed to him. This focused exhibition brings together for the first time Bruegel’s only three surviving grisaille paintings: The Courtauld’s Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery, The Death of the Virgin from Upton House (National Trust) and Three Soldiers from the Frick Collection in New York. Painted in shades of grey, these exquisite masterpieces were treasured by Bruegel and his friends. Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery was one of the very few paintings the artist kept for himself, and The Death of the Virgin was owned by his close friend, the great map-maker Abraham Ortelius.
The exhibition will include replicas made by Bruegel’s sons, as well as other grisailles in order to shed light on this genre in Northern Europe. An associated display in the Butler Drawings Gallery will showcase other rare works by Bruegel from The Courtauld’s permanent collection.