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Winter’s Pleasures Through the Eyes of Pieter Bruegel the Younger

Published on , by Philippe Dufour

This is one of Pieter Bruegel the Younger’s many—and most sought-after—copies of a painting by his father.

Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564/1565-1636), Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters and... Winter’s Pleasures Through the Eyes of Pieter Bruegel the Younger

Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564/1565-1636), Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters and Bird Trap, oil on panel, 38 x 55 cm/14.96 x 21.65 in.
Result: €744,000

This work, a version of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s original 1565 Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters and Bird Trap, has never come up for auction before. His son and namesake painted the replica on panel (38 x 55 cm/14.96 x 21.65 in). Bruegel the Younger often imitated his father’s works, copying them on request for collectors. For a long time, one of the best-sellers seems to have been this impressive winter landscape—still popular at €744,000. It bustles with dozens of fascinating details and groups of skaters enjoying their favorite pastime. Villagers of all ages stroll on the frozen river or play a game that is the ancestor of hockey. The painting is partly named after a detail on the right-hand side: a trebuchet, or bird trap, that can be seen on the snowy bank. A man hiding in a house is waiting to shut the trap with a rope when birds walk in. François-André Vincent’s sensitive Étude de tête de vieillard (Study of an Old Man’s Head), another, but more affordable, highlight of the Dijon sale, fetched €15,872. Vincent won the famous Grand Prix, which entitled him to perfect his art in Rome from 1771 to 1775. The theme of this marouflage on canvas (65.6 x 54.4 cm/25.82 x 21.42 in) recalls his links with Honoré Fragonard in the Eternal City. Jumping forward to the 20th century, Roderic O'Conor’s painting Reclining Nude from 1915-1917 (46 x 55 cm/18.11 x 21.65 in) sold for €11,408.

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