Picture Gallery

Although Bruegel was famous in his own lifetime, the archaic appearance of much of his imagery and his disinclination to adopt the idealized style of portraiture developed by the Italian Renaissance artists had, at least in sophisticated circles, an adverse effect on his reputation both during his lifetime and after his death. In his paintings eyes are reduced to round holes, heads resemble footballs, bodies look like punched sacks of flour and clothing is nearly always generalised.

This lack of emphasis on fine detail enables more stress to be placed on the silhouette of the forms, and herein are found some of his most characteristic and telling effects. The flat patterns formed by the outline of the figures are strikingly evident in such works as Hunters in the Snow, where the stunning visual impact of the striding figures, the dogs and the receding tree-trunks has earned the artist justifiable fame. Since his works did not conform to the aesthetic theories of the time, the early art historians were inclined to disregard him and indeed there appears to have been little serious academic study of his work until the 20th century.

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