Welcome to day 20 of our Art Blogmas. Today we’re hosting an exciting painting made by Pieter Bruegel the Elder – The Census at Bethlehem.

Art Blogmas 2022

Pieter Bruegel the Elder was a Renaissance painter who lived in Flanders during the 16th century. He is well known for his detailed paintings filled with many characters. We already presented one of his works on day two of Culture Tourist’s Art Blogmas.

Read more: Pieter Bruegel the Elder in Belgium

Pieter Bruegel the Elder: The Census at Bethlehem

Pieter Bruegel painted The Census at Bethlehem in 1566. It’s quite a special painting for us because it’s one of the first paintings in art history, with a large portion dedicated to the winter landscape.

Bruegel has set up the Biblical scene in a contemporary environment. We can see Mary and Joseph in the middle of the 16th-century Flemish village. Gabled houses and typical Belgian architecture don’t quite belong to the Bible.

However, Bruegel isn’t showing a specific Flemish village. He combines architecture from different places. For example, the castle’s ruins in the background resemble the gates and towers of Amsterdam.

The house on the left, where Mary and Joseph are heading, has a Habsburg coat of arms above its gates. Belgium, at that time, was under the rule of the Spanish branch of the Habsburg family. Thus, Bruegel makes some political connotations about foreign government within his painting.

Read more: Let’s slow down with some art

As always, he’s filling the painting with numerous characters and symbolism. From children playing and enjoying the winter activities to the threat of leprosy, we can find them all in this painting.

If you don’t want to miss other paintings I’ll share in this year’s Art Blogmas, be sure to check in here tomorrow morning. Or, follow along on the Culture Tourist Facebook page and Instagram profile.