The son of Pieter Bruegel the Elder (d. 1569), Jan I Brueghel is said to have been taught by his maternal grandmother, a tempera painter, before entering the workshop of Pieter Goedkind (d. 1583) in Antwerp. He spent a period in Italy between 1590 and 1596, after which he returned to Antwerp, where he executed a number of works for the Archduke Albert and the Infanta Isabella, and became a close collaborator of Rubens (q.v.), often providing the landscapes for large mythological or religious paintings. His son was Jan Brueghel II (1601-1678).
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