* 1553/54 wohl Breda
† 1626 Rom
The painter, drawer, etcher Paul Bril, who is also known by the given names Paulus or Paolo and whose last name circulates in various versions (Brill, Brilli, Brillo), counts among the most influential early baroque landscape painters.
Paul Bril (Paulus Brill) was born at Breda or Antwerp around 1553/54. He was trained in Antwerp, presumably by his father and by Damiaen Wortelmans. At the age of 14 he had to earn a living by decorating the lids of cembalo cases.
In either 1574 or 1576 Paul Bril traveled towards Rome and reached the Eternal City before 1580. In 1592 he married Otavia Sbarra, a goldsmith´s daughter and became one of his days´ most important landscape painters. As it is assumed by some, it seems very likely that Paul Bril was never active in Naples.
Paul Bril, who was often called Paolo Brilli or Paolo Brillo in Italy, painted a large number of sylvan landscapes, mountains and coastal views, adorned with ruins, genre scens or historical decorative elements. Cabinet pieces on copper or canvas were made as of the 1590s. His achievements in graphic art and hand drawing were also quite remarkable; additionally, he was also engaged in fresco painting.
His early works, mostly small and elaborate sylvan pieces, show his Flemish origins. During the years in Italy, however, Paul Bril increasingly adopted elements from Italian landscape art, especially from the classicist idealizing works by Annibale Carracci.
Paul Bril was not only popular in Rome, his works achieved top prices, even art merchants from Flanders exported his paintings to his home country, so that Paul Bril also inspired Northern European baroque landscape art.
In 1626 Paul Bril died in his adopted home Rome.