HUNTERS IN THE SNOW (WINTER)—THE PAINTING. In time for Slow Art Day, Gabriel Josipovici had a review in the TLS for March 31, 2017 of BOSCH AND BRUEGEL by Joseph Leo Koerner. Josipovici quotes Koerner’s analysis of Peter Bruegel the Elder’s painting Hunters in the Snow (Winter), which can be found here at Google Art Project. The review takes the approach frequently taken of following the course of the eye as it first looks at a painting. I have never been persuaded by that approach. And I now have Slow Art Day on my side. If you are going to spend more than 17 seconds looking at a painting, I don’t think that where you begin or which way your eye moves across the painting in the first few seconds of looking is very important. Anyway, that is not how I look at a painting.
On the other hand, Koerner has some comments that made me see the painting differently. He points out how the painting is structured: “we soar—or fall—precipitously into one of the deepest depths in European art….the disparity in scale between [the little girl on the sledge in the lower right hand corner] and the hunters opens a dizzying vertical distance, as if we have fallen into another world.”
And Josipovici quotes Koerner on how Bruegel combines two different ways of looking at the scene: “Bruegel portrays individual features (as trees, houses, mountains) as if from across, in ELEVATION, and he shows itineraries through the landscape along rivers, roads and valleys) as if from above, IN PLAN.”