jump to navigation

Painting the Cold and the Snow October 12, 2016

Posted by anagasto in art, drawing, painting.
trackback

.

This is called The Bird Trap. To find the trap, you must look for a long time and see so many things that you end up forgetting you were looking for a bird trap — which is to the right of the picture, towards the bottom, a slanted board with a bird sitting on its edge…

.

… and all the birds playing around the trap,  just as in that other picture the people dance all around the gallows:

.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

.

Most of Bruegel’s paintings are about lots of people doing lots of different things, and so even in the Prado museum, where visitors  can’t spend time on any picture,  they stand still in front of his paintings and try to take in all the detail, because some are funny, some are just pretty, some otherwise interesting as a sarcasm or some cruelty.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

.

on-the-ice

Children playing on the ice, and a little girl on her sledge : they are in a large painting about the beginning of the Bethlehem story, the census.

They are all bundled up and on top of all the other things they wear a long apron.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

.

two-children

They play with this toy called a top or a spinning top. Google says it is now a desktop toy:

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

.

It is  a snowy day in Bethlehem or rather old Belgium. No fanfare, no angels, no halos, no star.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

.

tn_village

People come from all over to the little town. It is winter. Look how big the roofs are, hanging down on some houses almost to the ground !

At the time, a house was first of all a roof (just as an airplane,  now, at least to its designer, is first of all a wing).

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

.

little-house

Funny little house ! The scan is no good. Even enlarging the picture I can’t see whether the whole little house is woven, basket-style. The chimney clearly is ! Those were hard times, but people did not have to pawn their lives just to get a house.  —

You can see a little old man coming out, pushing a poorly hinged front door. It must be very cold inside.  There aren’t any windows, only a hole in the wall.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

.

Those last three pictures are fragments of the painting called The Census .

If you look long enough, somewhere to the front (the bottom) of the picture, there is somebody in a long dark coat riding a donkey : that is Mary, the subject or maybe the pretext of the painting.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

.

She is just one more of many people who are going to  the offices of the Civil Registrar, to be included in the census.  Bruegel was probably a Protestant. Little is known about his life.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

.

Another fragment of the Census:  notice to the left there is a girl trying to hold back a pig.

And you see the little children all packed up in thick clothes that would be difficult to wash and impossible to dry.

The women are cooking. They have to cook outdoors because of the danger of  a fire, or they have just arrived and do not yet have a place to stay.

If there were a fire, what could they do? The river is frozen, and there  isn’t any tap water anywhere around for another century or two or three.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

.

girl-on-sledge

The pictures are from Brueghel published by Noguer Rizzoli in 1971 and by now available only second hand, for instance at ABE Books. There are 60 large colour plates plus his complete works as thumbnails. —

And below are three more contemporary views, one  from the US,

roofsnow

.

one from Switzerland

tn_img_7411

.

and one from Madrid, Spain:

(c) ghD

.

and yet another irresistible one from the US:

This picture is in public domain according to http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/ff/Snowplow2.jpg

.

.

Advertisements

Comments»

1. A.S.Chartwell - January 12, 2009

There is a little program available for free online that lets you improve scans made of old prints.

2. cantueso - January 12, 2009

Could you let me know the name of the program? I have one called EzThumbs.Exe. The little house is a fragment of a full page colour plate.

3. server42 - November 24, 2009

With all that snow, why would water be scarce in winter? You could melt snow, maybe go outside of town to get clean snow. And maybe a fire is impossible with so much snow around.

4. yvonne32 - November 24, 2009

Have to melt lots of snow to get 2 or 3 pints of water. I tried it once. It is quite tiring.

Don’t know whether a fire could get started in those houses, but some of them seem to be of solid construction. They could be kept dry partly and they would burn.

5. server42 - December 23, 2009

And where is that skilift? Why are there so many airplanes?

6. Carl D'Agostino - October 2, 2011

Many computer game constructors add little whimsical things to the program screen that have nothing to do with the game. Like Bruegal’s little insertions. May be a squirrel dashing across the action or a tree branch falling and such as that.

7. cantueso - October 3, 2011

No, I don’t think so. What you see as “whimsical things” are the things that keep people fully busy both mentally and manually while great things happen just next to them but they don’t know or don’t care.

Notice that these people do not look nice. They have dull or brutish faces and the things they do, rather than whimsical, are often downright stupid.

8. Carl D'Agostino - October 3, 2011

I have it working now. The avatar/link. Please test and let me know. It used to work but I don’t know how it got disconnected.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s