Published By: Sreyanshi

Why Does This Painting Still Looks Fresh 500 Years After it was Made?

Probing into the significance of Pieter Bruegel the Elder's "The Hunters in the Snow".

It is arguably the most well-known winter painting in all of art. a valley covered in snow, with frozen lakes and trees devoid of leaves.

Pieter Bruegel preferred an elevated viewpoint. It appears in many of his paintings. He is able to take us, the viewer, to the brow of the hillside in this piece so that we can gaze down on the village below alongside the hunters who are the subject of the picture.

The right side of the photograph opens up to the valley below, while the left side is close-up.

The row of trees also contributes to the dynamic. The trees are lined up, evenly spaced, and sharply silhouetted against the desolate landscape. They are also dropping in size, rhythmically drawing us deeper into the painting's world.

One of the masterworks by Bruegel is The Hunters in the Snow. It also ranks among his most intriguing works and is incredibly detailed. And because of these factors, this amazing piece of art has stood the test of time.

The Damaged Sign

Three hunters are shown in the painting making their way home after an outing. As they reach the top of the hill, they can see a hamlet in motion, with ice skaters and hockey players playing IJscolf on the frozen lake.

We'll cover all of these aspects later, but let's capture your attention for a moment with one on the painting's left side. Even though it's simple to overlook, the broken sign that hangs above an inn's entrance is important.

A master of the microscopic hint, Bruegel.

You can notice a male deer, known as a hart, standing in front of a guy who is kneeling and wearing a halo if you look very closely at the hanging sign. The hunter who became a Christian after discovering a cross between a deer's antlers is identified in history as Saint Hubert. Hubert's encounter with the deer is better shown in a painting by Wilhelm Räuber created long later. Hubert, who is startled and about to shoot the animal with an arrow, instead falls to his knees and asks the Lord, "Lord, what wouldst Thou have me do?"

As the patron saint of hunters, Saint Hubert is an appropriate invocation in Bruegel's painting of a huntsman. The inscription on the sign reads "DIT IS GOUDEN HERT '' which translates to "This is the Golden Deer '' or, perhaps a better translation, "The Golden Hart '' which is the name of the inn. However, if this was the location the hunters intended to visit in order to replenish their depleted energies, the damaged sign points to some other bad luck. A family is making a massive, wind-whipped fire underneath the sign, adding bundles of faggots (wooden sticks), likely to cook an animal like a boar, pig, or deer. However, there is no animal to mention.

A Lost Hunt?

Three hunters and a pack of about 12 dogs, including bloodhounds and greyhounds, stomp across the snow in what seems to be a despondent manner. Nobody is glancing upward. Even the dogs appear worn out and despondent.

The hunters have spears that can be used to hunt deer, but all they have is a single fox, which is commonly regarded as having an unpleasant taste when cooked. The fox was mostly caught for its fur and to defend the local poultry.

Fresh-looking even now

Following the Protestant Reformation, northern European artists shifted their focus from painting religious themes to "humble" images of people and daily life.

By taking a bird's-eye perspective on people, Bruegel created a new way of seeing. During a time when explorers were charting new lands, Bruegel observed the earth and its inhabitants with an artistic eye.