Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568 – 13 January 1625) was a Flemish painter, son of Pieter Bruegel the Elder and father of Jan Brueghel the Younger. Nicknamed "Velvet" Brueghel, "Flower" Brueghel, and "Paradise" Brueghel, of which the latter two were derived from his floral still lifes and paradise landscapes, while the former may refer to the velveteen sheen of his colors.
Jan was born in Brussels. His father died in 1569, and then, following the death of his mother in 1578, Jan, along with his brother Pieter Brueghel the Younger and sister Marie, probably went to live with their grandmother Mayken Verhulst (widow of Pieter Coecke van Aelst). She was an artist in her own right, according to Carel van Mander and Guicciardini, and possibly served as the first teacher of the two boys although her sons (their uncles) were also painters. Jan Brueghel moved to Antwerp around 1583.
In about 1589 Jan traveled to Italy, probably via Cologne. There he resided first in Naples, where his patron was Francesco Carracciolo. Next he moved to Rome, working for several discerning cardinals including, most famously, Federico Borromeo. It was in the company of Borromeo that Brueghel left Rome and took up residence in Milan, where he was part of the Cardinal's household. In the summer of 1596 he returned to Antwerp, where he remained for the rest of his life apart from short journeys to Prague and to the Dutch Republic.
While in Italy he applied himself principally to landscapes and history paintings, including Biblical narratives and scenes from mythology and ancient history. Back in Antwerp he continued these types of subject matter but also acquired considerable reputation by his flower paintings and allegories. He formed a style more independent of his father's than did his brother Pieter the Younger.
Many of his paintings are collaborations in which figures by other painters were placed in landscapes painted by Jan Brueghel; in other cases, Brueghel painted the figures into another artist's landscape or architectural interior. The most famous of his collaborators was Peter Paul Rubens: the two collaborated on about 25 paintings including a Battle of the Amazons (Potsdam), Mars Disarmed by Venus (Getty Museum), The Fall of Man (Mauritshuis), The Five Senses (Prado), and several images of the Madonna and Child within a Flower Garland (Munich, Paris, Madrid). Hendrick van Balen and Joos de Momper were also regular collaborators with Brueghel.
He had a studio in Antwerp, where he died from cholera on 13 January 1625.