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I’ve been looking a little more closely at the Bruegel ‘seasons’ series and this article suggests there may have been 12 rather than six, there are are 5 that we know about.

A series of paintings of the Months was commissioned by Niclaes Jonghelinck, a wealthy Antwerp merchant who at the time of his death owned sixteen paintings by Bruegel. Of the series only five remain: The Hunters in the Snow (January), The Gloomy Day (February), Haymaking (July) The Corn Harvest (August) and The Return of the Herd (November). There has been much discussion as to whether the series was made up of twelve panels, as was usual, or of six, each of which would have represented the activities of two months. There is, however, little reason to doubt that Bruegel used the traditional scheme of twelve paintings. All five that survive belong to a well-established northern tradition of the representation of the months, which goes back to the calendar illustrations in medieval manuscript illuminations. The paintings of the series were completed by February 1566; they were intended as part of a large-scale decorative scheme for the interior of the merchant's palatial house in Antwerp. As was usual in Flemish interiors of the time, Bruegel's landscape series was probably hung high up on the walls above the paneling, forming a continuous frieze around the room. Bruegel occupies an important position in the history of landscape painting on account of his ability to convey to the observer the transformation of nature in the course of the seasons. This was no new subject. The religious texts in the illustrated prayer-books of the nobles in the late Middle Ages were often preceded by a calendar with a page for each month. These pages showed the course of the year, mainly by depicting the respective occupations carried out in the month in question. In Bruegel's art, it is always Nature itself which renders the season apparent: like the trees and animals, the people represent merely one part of the broad landscapes spread out before the observer. As I mentioned the size of pictures is of great interest to me and it is no coincidence that the size of pictures in this series ( all similar) and the picture I sent to you last week ‘ The Census at Bethlehem’ - is painted within a golden rectangle, give or take a few centimetres.

Here is a video about how to construct a golden rectangle.

Here is a Christmas Challenge : Produce a painting in any media and any subject within the proportions of a Golden Rectangle !


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