Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Hunter in the Snow

by Alexandra Tuschka


Three hunters with a whole flock of hunting dogs trudge through the high snow from the left into the picture. Unfortunately, they were not very successful today. Only one fox they have been able to shoot, which the middle one of them has harnessed to his back. The diagonally steeply sloping path leads down to a small village. There, the lake is also frozen by the icy cold and allows the citizens to enjoy themselves on the ice. In the background, pointed mountains rise, at the foot of which a castle is recognizable.

This work by Pieter Breugel is one of 12 monthly paintings commissioned by an Antwerp banker. Here we presumably see frosty January. Compositionally, this is reflected in the composition, as the clear opening to the right edge of the picture is perfect for an opening piece.


Many details make viewing the image an exciting pastime. For example, a brushwood gatherer can be seen on the bridge, children skating on the lake, or a frozen water mill on the right edge of the picture. The left scene shows a blazing fire and some peasants in the process of scorching a pig. Above the inn hangs a sign depicting St. Eustace, the patron saint of hunters. The inscription: "Dit is inden Hert" (To the deer) is placed under it. Unfortunately, one side of the shield has fallen off the hook. This probably refers to the lack of hunting luck.


Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Hunter in the Snow

Oil on canvas, 1556, 117 x 162 cm, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna