All his sons and grandsons followed to become renowned painters whose styles differed from the Elder's. He created mostly landscapes, capturing the everyday peasant in his/her usual activities.
He was a high-born, but he painted the common-folk like he was born and raised among them.
The paintings featured here, A Winter Landscape with Skaters and Bird Trap, displays the motion of people in a natural environment.
He was among the first painters to use the style of the natural scenery; a style that was not common until comparatively late in history. He left quite a story - an interesting biography for other painters to follow.
Bruegel's time was a time when art and paintings were used only for the glory and honour of God. The medieval times considered the earth a spurned place, usually turning to the perfection of heaven for condolence. Artists therefore strived to tame nature; to take it away from its natural and wild self and place it into a canvas that was more fantasy than real.
Winter was despised for its cold self and artists never really fancied such paintings. Mountains and storms were feared, so they were avoided as much as possible, even in paintings.
In the 1500s, Pieter Bruegel the Elder emerged as an artist of the Northern Renaissance. This painting shows the labours of a small Flemish town during his time. He based his career on the life of common peasants, usually dressing up as them and sneaking into their midst so as to capture his inspirations in their most natural setting.
This earned him the nickname "Peasant Bruegel". He borrowed from his predecessors in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, but unlike them, Bruegel let nature run wild. He painted as he saw, depicting his faceless and nameless subjects as happy and joyful to live as they were.
In a time when artists shunned away from worldly things towards the spiritual, Bruegel embraced the earth and her beauty. This painting shows a deeper understanding of winter, bird traps and the care free nature of skaters.
He roots it in reality, simply showing us what we already see every day; anonymous strange people going about their daily business, only he showed the picture from an entirely different perspective. He painted out of his time and religious beliefs, one could say that this artists painted raw.
He has his subjects on thin ice, literally. He uses the landscape to compliment the skaters just as well as he uses the skaters to bring the environment to life. Painted at around the same time as his other great work Hunters in the Snow, this painting is entirely secular.
Unless one considers the fact that Bruegel has his subjects painted on thin ice in a rough winter season with bird traps around them, then this would give a more spiritual emblem to the frame.
Historical art trends showed emergence of new and more detailed styles that borrowed from but were entirely different from the old styles of art.
The Winter Landscapes started to emerge slowly, and soon, it included mountains, snow, the interaction of human beings with their natural environments and a general sense of a realistic feeling to them.
The started to portray the feeling of a scold and hard world, but they also showed the presence of beauty and calmness in this world.
This painting was one of the many that mirrored the changes in society; people stated accepting the world they were in instead of wishing for a better one. Bruegel showed reality, and this was better than what any other piece of art had to offer.