Greatest Netherlandish painter of the 16th century. Not much is known of his early life, but in 1551 he set off for Italy, where he produced his earliest signed painting, Landscape with Christ and the Apostles at the Sea of Tiberias (c. 1553). Returning to Flanders in 1555, he achieved some fame with a series of satirical, moralizing prints in the style of Hiëronymus Bosch, commissioned by an Antwerp engraver. He is best known for his paintings of Netherlandish proverbs, seasonal landscapes, and realistic views of peasant life and folklore, but he also took a novel approach to religious subject matter, portraying biblical events in panoramic scenes, often viewed from above. He had many important patrons; most of his paintings were commissioned by collectors. In addition to many drawings and engravings, about 40 authenticated paintings from his enormous output have survived.
Detail from Christ Carring the Cross