Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Hunting for Bruegel

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...)


Karyn said...

I have to confess that I don't read your blog much. In fact, I think the only time I've ever read an entry was the first time I realized you even had a blog and skimmed through it. I'm rather old school, and actually don't do any social media. But I found myself with a little bit of free time late this afternoon and came across it again as I was browsing the web.

I read a few entries and finally came to this one. Bruegel is an old favorite of mine too, and I also love the Hunters scene. A copy of his Peasant's Dance is hanging on the wall of our study where I'm sitting right now, a gift from a friend who knew I loved Bruegel.

And I also love the early morning or early evening light produced during the winter months. Some of the most striking sunrises occur in Nov and early Dec and this painting also reminds me of those. So thanks for sharing your insights and reflections.


Claudia said...

Hi Doug! And this belated reply will tell you I'm not very good at finding comments in a timely manner! I've kept a blog for many years and finding it harder to keep up now. I'm glad you wrote about your shared love of Bruegel. I love the "Peasant's Dance" as well and a what a nice daily reminder of the joys of life. Cheers and thanks!

Blog Archive