Months of the year series, Brueghel the Elder (Part I)

Months of the year series, Brueghel the Elder (Part I)
Months of the year series, Brueghel the Elder (Part I)

Throughout history there have been many representations of the months of the year, from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages the months of the year have been part of traditional iconographyboth in the pictorial and sculptural spheres. However, the works that we analyze here are not intended to be a traditional representation and use of the year despite the fact that they have been configured in the same way as they were with the months, representing them through the works that were carried out in them.


Pieter Brueghel (1525 – 1569) nicknamed The Elder to differentiate him from his son and also his painter, Pieter Brueghel the Younger, was one of the central figures in Flemish Renaissance painting. His fame crossed borders in time and not only because he was the forerunner of a long saga of artists but also because Brueghel created his own pictorial style based on the representation ofthe life of peasants of his time in a detailed and truthful way; These genre scenes are incorporated by the artist in all his productions, regardless of whether it is a religious scene or a simple landscape.

In the middle of the 16th century, specifically in the year 1565, the artist made a series of six paintings painted using the canvas-on-board technique, each one representing two monthsdifferent so that the series completes the year. At present, unfortunately, the series is not concrete since the piece corresponding to the months of April and May has been lost.

The series begins with the canvas of the Hunters in the snow representing the months of December and January. The work is currently exhibited at the Vienna Art History Museum and in it we can see in the foreground two hunters who stand diagonally and are followed by their dogs. The powerful image of the canvas transports us to a city with two large frozen lakes. The dominance of the white color corresponding to snow is striking with respect to the tiny characters that practice winter games, as well as foreshadowing the importance of this theme that baroque artists will later deal with.

The second of the canvases, known as Sad Day or Cloudy Day.


represents the months of March and April. We find ourselves before a cloudy day with a desolate landscape and some characters that seem to be eating waffles, something typical of carnival in northern Europe. The charged atmosphere bathes everything and the play of light and shadow nuances the canvas.

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