Pieter Brueghel the Younger was born in Brussels, the oldest son of the famous sixteenth-century Netherlandish painter Pieter Brueghel the Elder (known as “Peasant Brueghel”) and Mayken Coecke van Aelst. His father died in 1569, when Pieter the younger was only five years old. Following the death of his mother in 1578, Pieter, together with his brother Jan Brueghel the Elder (also referred to as “Velvet Brueghel”, “Paradise Breughel” and “Flower Breughel”) and sister Marie, went to live with their grandmother Mayken Verhulst. Mayken Verhulst was the widow of the prolific artist Pieter Coecke van Aelst and an accomplished artist in her own right, known for her miniature paintings. According to the early 17th-century Flemish biographer Karel van Mander Mayken Verhulst was possibly the first teacher of her two grandsons.
Pieter Brueghel the Younger painted landscapes, religious subjects, proverbs and village scenes. His genre paintings of peasants emphasize the picturesque, and are regarded by some as lacking Pieter the Elder’s subtlety and humanism.
He and his workshop were prolific copyists of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s most famous compositions. His name and work were largely forgotten in the 18th and 19th centuries until he was rediscovered in the first half of the 20th century.