Hunter in the snow

June 14, 2011

Bruegel’s The Hunters in the Snow has been on my wall for years. It was only recently that I was struck by the similarity between this painting and John Craxton’s cover designs for A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. Of course Bruegel’s hunters are returning from a journey, while Craxton’s figures are just setting out… but somehow both of them manage to capture a similar sense of exhilaration, a breathless feeling of excitement, at descending into a mysterious and unknown European landscape.

 

‘I headed north-east, treading downhill through the snow, and each step sank deeper. Rooks crowded the trees and the fields below were white and grey parallelograms bordered by many willows. Streams crossed them under lids of ice to join a slatey loop of the river; and the hushed and muffled scenery was the background of Brueghel’s Hunters in the Snow. Only the hunters themselves were missing, with their spears and their curly-tailed dogs.’

— From A Time of Gifts

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