Picture of the month
Follower of Jörg Breu the Elder, "Winter", c. 1531:
This oil painting is one of four in a series of works that show the four seasons of the year and the idealised life of the nobility in the sixteenth century. Originally painted in Augsburg, Southern Germany, the panels are today housed in the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin.
It is not certain who painted the panels but a close resemblance of the style and subject matter to glass window designs by Jörg Breu the Elder (1475/1480-1537) suggest a connection to his workshop.
The figures in the "Winter" panel engage in various pastimes such as board games, watching a jousting tournament, promenading across a town square, or hunting in the fields. The wealth of detail with which the scenes are depicted draws in the viewer's eye. You can almost feel the warmth of the tiled stove in the room on the left, smell the food and drink on the table. You can almost hear the noise of the bustling crowd watching the joust and mingling in the square, having a chat. And the open fields behind the city walls contrast the busy atmosphere and give a sense of calm, only interrupted by the dancing party on the right. The protagonists of the painting cannot be identified with certainty but they are all members of the Augsburg nobility. It is therefore likely, that the four paintings were commissioned by a wealthy family of the time.
Whilst this painting leaves us with numerous questions about its history, it also offers us an insight into the life of the wealthy elite during the sixteenth century.