After Bruegel's trip to Rome in 1553, he settled in Antwerp and began a fruitful collaboration with the publisher Hieronymus Cock, who was already renowned for the quality of his printmaking.
The Landscape with the Temptation of Christ
had long been attributed by cataloguers to Cock alone (e.g., it does not figure in René van Bastelaer's 1908 catalogue raisonné): Cock's name appears
clearly in the composition (lower left, H.
without that of Bruegel. Though the reasons for this notable
absence are unknown, it has been surmised that this resulted from
Cock's consideration at this time of Bruegel's name not yet being "a commercial asset".
Bruegel's authorship however came clearly to light with the discovery of an
important preliminary drawing, Landscape
with Bears (right) in the Národni Galerie, Prague (Inventory No. K4493), by Karl
Arndt* in 1966.
The drawing is
dated 1554, and as Cock promptly executed his etchings of Bruegel's compositions, it is therefore the first
etching that Cock published after Bruegel; more especially, it is also
the only print after
Bruegel that Cock etched himself. (See entries 15 and 16 in the
2001 Metropolitan Museum of Art catalogue, Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Drawings and
etched image" corresponds quite
closely to the Prague drawing, with the notable exception of the five
replaced with the moralizing scene of the temptation of Christ by
Satan, disguised as a bearded hermit: this is related in the Gospels, wherein
Jesus, after his baptism, fasted for 40 days in the Judaean desert, and
was approached thrice; Cock shows here the episode where Satan offers a
stone, challenging Jesus to transform it into bread so as to relieve