A Closer Look at “Hunters in the Snow”
<div>Pieter Bruegel’s Hunters in the Snow was painted in 1565. It is the earliest large­ format winter landscape in western art history. </div>
<div>Bruegel excels in capturing the spaces and activities that make up everyday village life. Below this crooked sign for ‘The Good Hart’ inn, peasants prepare to “singe” a pig to remove its bristles. </div>
<div>Hunters in the Snow is one of five surviving seasonal paintings by Bruegel, all dated to 1565. It has become a defining image of wintertime and one of the best known paintings in art history.</div>
<div>Bruegel’s seasonal series follows a long tradition of artists engaging with the seasons, but makes an important leap in treating the subject in a secular framework.</div>
<div>Throughout the painting, Bruegel is in interested in human activity in the winter. Here, a woman carries a bundle of sticks for firewood. </div>
<div>Here, Bruegel paints a bird trap in a further reference to hunting during the winter months.</div>
<div>Because of the weather, fields could not be worked in the winter, giving villagers more free time. Bruegel shows many frolicking and skating on the ice.</div>
<div>Other figures play kolf, a traditional ball game. Players have to hit the ball across the court three times from one end to the other, each time hitting the post at the opposite end. </div>
<div>Winter has taken hold across the landscape. Thick icicles have claimed this mill wheel and brought it to a halt, as though time itself has frozen. </div>
<div>The dark silhouette of this damp-feathered ­bird swoops across the landscape, leading our eye to the extraordinary depth of the painting. </div>
<div>The group of hunters who give the painting its name return with meagre spoils. Two are empty handed. One carries a small fox.</div>
<div>In the snow, we can just make out the subtle paw prints of a rabbit or hare which managed to evade the hunters.</div>
<div>This motley crew of hunting dogs includes taller hounds and smaller terriers. They all trudge wearily behind the hunters, heads and tails hanging low.</div>
<div>Bruegel gives nature itself an unprecedented significance in his work, capturing the particular effects of light and colour that each season brings. </div>
<div>These so­-called ‘mixed landscape’ combines Bruegel’s memories of the Alps with typically Flemish motifs. </div>
<div>This woman’s red skirt is a rare glimpse of colour in an otherwise muted palette of white, grey-green, and brown.</div>
<div>Hunters in the Snow has featured in numerous films, among them <i>Solaris</i>, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, and Lars von Trier’s <i>Melancholia</i>.</div>

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