Hunters in the Snow

7:00 AM

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Hunters in the Snow, 1565

Please use this painting as a holiday card. 
Sincerely, Pieter Bruegel. 

A similar message must have been written on the back of Bruegel's Hunters in the Snow, since nearly every bucket of holiday popcorn is accompanied by this postcard with a message that proclaims A Warm Fire and the Warm Love of a Family, who needs more for Christmas? Nonetheless, Hunters in the Snow, is a masterpiece, but does not necessarily remind me of a warm cup of cocoa. 

As a composition, this piece works beautifully. The fluent slopes of the mountains, combined with the diagonal movement of the trees creates a pleasing peaceful feel. However the pleasantness dissipates with the contrast of the harsh winter overshadowing the presence of man. Although this would seem like a secular piece, Bruegel's signature depth gives a omnipresence sense of spirituality combating the human experience. The overwhelming presence of nature calls attention to the smallness of man. To the point where A Warm Fire and the Warm Love of a Family seems oddly soft for the intensity of this painting. Survival comes to mind before christmas  sentiments, however I suppose that's just as fitting for the holiday period.

The normal concept of subject is lost in this painting, as it is in most of Bruegel's work. The hunters, supposedly the subject, act as a frame for the ice rink behind them. Almost as if the subject itself is the scene, and the hunters behave as a setting, telling the story.

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