As the sun fell across our yard late yesterday afternoon, the bare tree limbs and sky color made me think of a long-ago love, Pieter Bruegel the Elder. An early morning college art history class on Northern European painters was worth getting up for, especially to view the works of Bruegel.
"Hunters in the Snow" (1565) was one of six paintings Bruegel was commissioned to paint with a distinct seasonal theme*. This is early winter. I love the vantage we see from the hill crest. I love the tired dogs, the color of the sky, the woman crossing the bridge with her load of sticks. I especially love the soaring bird that leads my eye like an arrow to the village scene below. As one art historian put it, "It is a landscape warmed by the human inhabitants." It is indeed a meaningful visual record of life in winter, particularly for those of us who experience this snowy, cold season. I am warmed by the fact that one painter's work calls to this Iowan (and many others!) 451 years later.
*Five of the six seasonal paintings survive- a late spring piece is missing (isn't that wonderfully tantalizing?! Maybe it will one day be discovered, secreted in some country barn, under the hay bales, in perfect condition...)
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