A Bruegel For All Seasons

Pieter Bruegel the Elder‘s The Harvesters, above, is an iconic fall painting for me. This large work, bursting with golden yellow tones, illuminates the room it hangs in at the Met, more reminiscent of a Van Gogh than of the 16th c. works around it. However, Fall is nearly over.
The painting below is more appropriate for days when it gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon. Hunters in the Snow is a rare winter landscape of Bruegel, and one the similarly captures how a season feels. It’s flat grey sky and the starkness of the trees against the white snow exude chill. Like The Harvesters, it’s a picture that looks shockingly fresh and recent.

According to the Met’s excellent Heilbrun Timeline for Bruegel, the artist was trying to capture the different seasons in a commisioned series, sic:

For the Antwerp home of the wealthy merchant Niclaes Jongelinck, who owned no less than sixteen of the artist’s works, Bruegel executed a series of paintings representing the Seasons, of which five survive: Gloomy Day, Return of the Herd, Hunters in the Snow (all Vienna, Kunsthistoriches Museum), Haymaking (Prague, Národní Galerie), and The Harvesters. Though rooted in the legacy of calendar scenes, Bruegel’s emphasis is not on the labors that mark each season but on the atmosphere and transformation of the landscape itself.

7 thoughts on “A Bruegel For All Seasons

  1. The Bruegel gallery at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna is one of the most amazing spots on earth. Breugel’s on all sides of you – it’s almost too rich. I didn’t know where to look.

  2. I think both of these are absolutely amazing. Color and composition are amazing.

    Amateur Reader, I can *sympathize* with your predicament. Sounds wonderful.

  3. Hunters…are you familiar with with Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris? Might say the movie is a love note to Bruegel. Which makes the amazingness of the enterprise almost overwhelming for me.

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