Paul Bril

Bril Paul

Paul Bril (1554 in Antwerp - 7 October 1626 in Rome) was a Flemish painter principally of landscapes who spent most of his active career in Rome. His Italianate landscapes had a major influence on landscape painting in Italy and Northern Europe.

Paul Bril was the son of the painter Matthijs Bril the Elder (Date of birth unknown, probably Breda - c. 1550, Antwerp). Paul and his older brother Matthijs likely started their artistic training with their father in Antwerp. Paul may also have been a student of the Antwerp painter Damiaen Wortelmans who was specialised in the decoration of harpsichords.

Matthijs moved to Rome probably around 1575. Here he worked on several frescoes in the Vatican Palace. It is believed Paul joined his brother in Rome around or after 1582.

When Matthijs died in 1583, his brother likely continued his work, picking up many of Matthijs' commissions. Paul's earliest known works date from the late 1580s.[6] He established his reputation with commissions from Pope Gregorius XIII in the Collegio Romano. His success was assured after Pope Sixtus V became his principal patron. Bril was part of a team specialized in landscape painting and thus participated in almost every assignment which entailed decorative landscapes, such as in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, the Vatican Palace and the Scala Santa.

Another important early commission was the fresco cycle in the Santa Cecilia in Trastevere in Rome of around 1599. He also received the patronage of Pope Clement VIII who commissioned him with a monumental seascape on the Martyrdom of St. Clement which Paul Brill painted in collaboration with the brothers Giovanni and Cherubino Alberti in the Vatican Palace’s Sala Clementina (1600–02/3). In 1601 Paul received another major commission, to paint a series of large canvases featuring properties of the Mattei family. Paul further painted landscape frescoes in the Casino dell'Aurora of the Palazzo Pallavicini-Rospigliosi in Rome.

His patrons were among the most influential people in Rome and included members from the Colonna, Borghese, Mattei and Barberini families in Rome as well as Cardinal Federico Borromeo in Milan, Cardinal Carlo de’ Medici in Florence and Duke Ferdinando Gonzaga in Mantua.

In 1621, Paul Bril became director of the Accademia di San Luca, the artists' academy in Rome. This was a clear sign of the high esteem in which he was held by his fellow artists in Rome as he was the first foreigner to hold this position.

Paul Bril had many students including his son Cyriacus Bril, Luigi Carboni, Balthasar Lauwers, Willem van Nieulandt II, Pieter Spierinckx, Agostino Tassi and Hendrick Cornelisz Vroom. Karel Philips Spierincks may also briefly have been his pupil.


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