The National Museum of Art of Romania
 Brueghel - Winter
Artwork description
Pieter Brueghel the Younger
(Brussels, 1564 - Antwerp, 1638)
Flemish school

Spring
Oil on wood
43 x 59 cm
Inv. 69403/2283

Summer
Oil on wood
42,5 x 57,5 cm
Inv. 69404/2284

Autumn
Oil on wood
42,8 x 59 cm
Inv. 69402/2282

Winter
Oil on wood
42,8 x 57,4 cm
Inv. 69405/2285
Artwork location
European Art Gallery, 2nd floor, room 7
Sign language video
Sign language video

The Seasons series brings together four small-size panels by Pieter Brueghel the Younger. Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, were produced in the highly lucrative studio the artist had inherited from his famous father, Pieter Breugel the Elder. The series suggestively illustrates the passage of time and the cycle of life.

Spring sets the stage for the seasonal story as activities typically linked to March, April and May unfold before our eyes in successive picture planes. Numerous servants tend to an elaborate garden, sheare the sheep, cut back the vine and roses under the watchfull eyes of well-dressed masters. Before glimpsing into the distant landscape have a look at the merry-making villagers balancing all the hard work with a dance at the local inn.

Summer is all about harvest time. Fruit picking (mouth-watering red cherries are carried by the woman coming from the right of the image!) and wheat gathering are complemented by hay stacking: small pyramids dot the blueish background. Busy people show there is a job out there for every member of the community, male or female, young or old.

Autumn focuses primarily on pig slaughter and meat curing, which take up the entire foreground. Grape picking and wine making are minutely depicted in the middleground where people are stomping the grapes in a low wooden vat while the village seems to fade away into the distance.

Winter tells the story of a great feast in which everyone partakes irrespective of social status. The painter candidly revels in watcing people indulge in the pleasures of skating along the frozen canals, falling, breaking the ice, warming up in the local pub.

In Brueghel’s Four Season series every single detail adds up to form a great visual narrative of daily life in sixteenth-century Flanders. The artist invites everyone to take the front seat and join in watching the world go by.

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