He came back from Italy, where he had spent the previous years, and took over his father’s studio and made a good living, painting landscapes that were inspired by his predecessor’s works, without being slavish copies.
The resemblance was, however, so close that many of his paintings were long considered to be the work of the father.
This was also the case with the Rocky Landscape with the Flight to Egypt, executed at the beginning of the 1630s, which is being auctioned by Karl & Faber in Munich on May 18.
The 8½ x 11in (22 x 27cm) copper panel passed through many hands as the work of Brueghel senior but has now been identified as the work of his son, who adapted two paintings of the same subject. In contrast to the earlier works, the Holy Family is almost reduced to a detail in the foreground; Brueghel junior’s landscape is the dominant feature.
The painting has been in a German collection for over 40 years and is estimated at €60,000-80,000.