Painting by Peter Bruegel “Landscape with skaters and a trap for birds.” Flemish village drowned in snowdrifts. Winter graphics of trees – bright and openwork against the sky. On the ice of a frozen river, carefree little men skate, walk, play something, talk animatedly.
Behind the houses snowy open spaces open, then here and there small snowy trees stick out from the snow, and far away on the horizon the tall roofs of the city are barely visible. Peace and carefreeness blows from the whole picture – as if it were some Flemish “Sunday”, a long-awaited rest from weekly works.
“Landscape with skaters and a trap for birds” – this is the name of this small, sustained in exquisite pearl scale, painted by Peter Bruegel shortly before his death in 1565. It was very popular, and today its 127 copies are known, 45 of which belong to the brush of Brueghel the Younger, the artist’s son. Landscape with a trap for birds. Where is the trap? To admit, you do not immediately recognize her in this heavy door, slightly raised above the ground, – under it generously sprinkled grain, and around around are the same, like people, carefree birds. And where are the birds? Hardly among these little men in bright clothes: almost all of them turned their backs on us, everyone is carried away by something of his own, immersed in his occupation.
In the serene music of the winter day, a note of anxiety pours in. And maybe he is waiting for his moment behind these trees in the foreground? Where are we, spectators, observers? And if now to translate the view from the birds again to the river? Are not we really watching these people? After all, Peter Joker has captured the landscape from a high point of view, for some reason he raised us over what is happening, and we can not “enter” into the picture, step onto the ice, as if we know, noticed something that skaters do not want to see.
Bruegel more than once wrote a river on which people – who glides, who goes, who falls and gets up, and who stopped. More than once I wrote a river of human life. However, in each picture this symbol takes on a new meaning. Here the river is a trap, a trap: at any moment the ice can crack, and frivolous figures will not have time to be saved. A person’s life is fragile and ephemeral. Like the life of birds not suspected of being trapped. Another confirmation of this idea is found in the depiction of birds and people in the foreground: they almost do not differ in size.