Winter Landscape Paintings by Dutch and English Masters

Winter Landscape with Skaters and Bird Trap (1565) by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium (from Web Gallery of Art).

  • Paintings by the Dutch and English masters during the Little Ice Age (c. 1300-1850) commonly show people skating on canals, lakes, and rivers that regularly froze during the 14th through 19th centuries but do not freeze today.
  • Winter Landscape with Skaters and Bird Trap (shown above) is an example of one such painting. It depicts people skating on a canal in a Brabant village in the Netherlands.
  • This particular scene may be alluding to the winter of 1564-65, which, according to journals and chronicles from the time, was particularly severe.

How is this related to climate?

  • The freezing of canals, lakes and rivers, many of which do not freeze today, that is depicted in these paintings was due to a drop in average global temperatures associated with the Little Ice Age.  

References and additional resources