A Woodland Road with Travelers (1607)

Brueghel, Jan the Elder (1568-1625)

A Woodland Road with Travelers
Oil on wood, 46 x 83.2 cm
Metropolitan Museum of ArtNew York

Jan, who was born shortly before the death of his famous father, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, advanced the genre of Northern landscape painting beyond his father’s legacy. In this refined, well-preserved panel, the vast depth of the landscape is balanced by an attention to the humanity of the peasant subjects and their humble tasks in the foreground. The juxtaposition of the living and the dead—the lush woods with a fallen, dead tree, and the living horses with a horse’s skeleton—reflects the mortality of all living things that results in their eventual return to the earth. (MET)