Paul and Mattheus Brill
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Paul (1554-1626) and Mattheus (1550-1583) Brill (or Bril) were brothers, both born in Antwerp, who were landscape painters who worked in Rome after earning papal favor. They are also described as painters of capricci (whims or fancies) or vedute ideate or veduta di fantasia, with typical rustic hills with a few ruins. Mattheus began work on several frescoes in Rome from 1570 onwards, and his work includes the Vatican's Seasons. Mattheus died young, and his brother continued his work around 1574. Paul, a student of Damiaen Oertelmans, painted frescoes such as the landscapes in the Casino Rospigliosi (Rome), and The Roman Forum, which showed this site for what it had become: a slum for squatters and pasture for livestock (so much so that the place was nicknamed Campo Vaccino, or "The Cowfield"). His masterpiece may be a fresco in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican.
Paul also did engravings and small cabinet paintings on copper, some of which are signed with a pair of spectacles (a pun on the French word brilles, "spectacles"). Some of these were collaborations with Johann Rottenhammer, who according to a dealer's letter of 1617 painted the figures in Venice and then sent the plates to Rome for Bril to complete the landscape. He collaborated with his friend Adam Elsheimer, who he both influenced and was influenced by, on one painting (now Chatsworth House).
Agostino Tassi may have been Paul's pupil. Tassi later became the master of Claude Lorrain. The Brill Brothers form one of the links between the panoramic views of Joachim Patenier and the ideal landscape evolved by Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain.
- Peter and Linda Murray, The Penguin Dictionary of Art and Artists. Fifth Edition: Revised and Enlarged (Penguin Books, London, 1988), 51.