Pieter Brueghel the Elder was born in 1525 (the exact date is unknown) in Breda. There is a bit of confusion about this place, because the Latin Breda could stand for the town Breda in Holland or for the Belgian town Bree. However Brueghel is certainly considered to be Belgian.
Brueghel's early influences include his teacher Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Hieronymus Bosch. Pieter Brueghel later married the daughter of his teacher, Mayke. In 1551 Brueghel was accepted as a master in the painters guild of Antwerp and shortly after, he started travelling to France and Italy, to finally settle in Brussels.
Brueghel often disguised himself as a peasant to acquire inspiration for his paintings. He often painted rural scenes, but is also known for painting wonderful landscapes. Brueghel was one of the first painters to paint landscapes for their own sake, rather than as a backdrop to a religious allegory.
During the last years of his life Bruegel was much influenced by Italian Renaissance art with its inclination towards the monumental. This can be seen in such works as The Peasant Wedding, The Peasant Dance and The Peasant and the Birdnester, where the figures are larger in scale, more in the foreground, with a lower viewpoint and less emphasis on the setting.
However he still continued to produce works in his earlier style with small figures in panoramic settings.
Pieter Brueghel the Elder died September 9, 1569, in Brussels.