Fashion Inspired by Art: Pieter Bruegel's "Hunters in the Snow"

Walking in a winter wonderland...in great shoes!
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Isa - University of California Berkeley
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Walking in a winter wonderland...in great shoes!

This week's edition of Fashion Inspired by Art features Pieter Bruegel's painting, Hunters in the Snow. For my last article as part of the CF family, I wanted to share this Northern Renaissance era wintery scene.

About the Painting

Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569) created this oil on wood panel painting in 1565, toward the end of the Northern Renaissance. A wealthy merchant commissioned Bruegel to create this piece as one of six panel paintings depicting seasonal activities throughout the course of one year.

It's unlikely that one could actually see snowy mountains in Flanders, the setting of the painting. Rather, the landscape was inspired by one of Bruegel's trips to the alps on the way down from Flanders to Italy. This painting portrays the burden of winter - the foreground depicts hunters and their meager earnings as they set out toward a seemingly tired, dreary environment.

As the viewer's eye travels to the right of the painting, however, lively mini narratives dominate the background. The tiny figures on the ice and scattered throughout the rest of the village busily engage in a multitude of winter activities, from an early version of hockey to carrying firewood toward a home. Despite the human clutter, the painting maintains a calming feeling. A crisp, frosty, and refreshing landscape balances out the busy activity.

As for what distinguishes this work as notable among other Northern Renaissance pieces, Dr. Steven Zucker of Khan Academy says, 

"The landscape feels frozen and harsh, but it's warmed by its human inhabitants."

Outfit 1

Outfit inspired by Pieter Bruegel's "Hunters in the Snow"

Products: Sweater, Skirt, Jacket, Boots

I took inspiration from the housing scattered throughout the painting. Warm, earthy tones break up the painting's otherwise stark, bleak winter landscape. 

Following the button down skirt trend, I found this interestingly-colored number from Nordstrom (on sale now!). For a cozy, layered look, tuck a turtleneck sweater into the skirt and layer a fuzzy bomber jacket on top. I'm also loving the over-the-knee boots trend, especially when paired with a stiffer, structured skirt.

Outfit 2

bruegel winter 2

Products: Coat, Dress, Socks, Boots

This second outfit channels the blue-green of the scenery. The cool tones and frosty grays of the painting inspired the coat, but I thought that a jewel-toned dress would pay homage to the painting's vibrance. I love the look of cream socks sticking out of black boots, and the combination pairs nicely with the shape of the dress.

Outfit 3

bruegel winter 3 fixed

Products: Jacket, Crop Top, Jeans, Backpack, Shoes

This last outfit is inspired by the activity and the bustle of the town. Perfect for being active or just going out in a comfy ensemble, this outfit is definitely the most sporty of the three. 

A loose, oversized denim jacket layered over a form-fitting crop top and form-fitting black jeans creates interesting proportions. This mesh backpack turns the otherwise basic look a little more urban and edgy. Finish the look with comfy sneakers and you're ready to play hockey or collect firewood! (Maybe.)

Final Thoughts

It's been so fun writing for CF these past six months. I've thoroughly enjoyed researching and sharing my favorite works of art with the CF art-loving community. Hearing your wonderful feedback has made this journey so fulfilling. I can't wait to pass on the torch to the next Fashion Inspired by Art writer and see what beautiful artwork lies ahead.

What do you think?

What is your favorite piece from the Northern Renaissance? Which latest fashion trends have influenced your wardrobe? (I'm so obsessed with the over-the-knee boots trend.) Let me know in the comments below!