Petr Jan Brandl (1668 – 1739) was a Czech painter, one of the main representatives of the Czech peak baroque.
The father of Petr Brandl was a tailor probably of the German origin. The mother came of a Czech peasant family from the South-Bohemian Prestanice. The young Brandl, predetermined for a completely different path originally, got from the Jesuit grammar school into apprenticeship with the court painter Kristian Schröder. As the administrator of the castle picture gallery, he enabled him to get acquainted with the works of the Italian and Dutch school. It was important for Brandl in a crucial way because he himself had never left his native country so he knew the European painting only through the mediation of the foreigners active in Prague that time.
Brandl was admitted to the old-town guild of painters in 1694. Nevertheless, his path of life went not only along the manor residences and rich monasteries but also along the worst taverns and prisons. He left his wife and his three children and successfully avoided his alimentary duties until the end of his life. Yet, Brandl became the most reputable painter of the time, he had plenty of orders and earned enormous money, but he was also able to throw away his money easily and he was over head and ears in debts then. He did not pal the bills for his favourite delicacies, wine, tobacco, even the talcum powder, he did not pay to the guild of painters and so he was repeatedly called to order. Followed by his creditors, his wife and looking for a rest, he took refuge in Kutná Hora in 1734 where he also died. He was found dead in the tavern At the Black Little Horse on the 25th September of 1735.
Brandl painted just in the same wild way as his life was. He opted dramatic scenes in his pictures, combined the sources of light and worked with chiaroscuro in perfection. The living characteristics of persons enabled him to create sophisticated portraits. His first biographer J. Q. Jahn wrote about him that Brandl shaped the whole figures and groups of figures in clay in order to be able to observe the setting-up of lights and shadows. He left more than 60 authorized paintings, a lot of sketches and drawings.