Pieter Bruegel the Elder played a major role in the history of landscape painting, imbuing it with a poignancy and sense of wonder that always remained rooted in the values of Renaissance humanism. This rolling winter vista, created when Bruegel was at the pinnacle of his career, is without doubt his enduring masterpiece. Belonging to a series, Labors of the Months, commissioned by a wealthy banker in Antwerp, the mountainous peaks in the background were inspired by sketches that the artist executed between 1552 and 1553 while crossing the Alps towards Italy, and the rest of the panorama recalls the flat country of his native Belgium. Finished in 1565, “Hunters in the Snow” is a stirring evocation of the day-to-day agricultural activities of a small Flemish village. Having only recently settled in the bustling city of Brussels, the artist drew upon his lengthy experience of the European winter to create one of the most enduring snow scenes in the history of painting. It is a stark evocation of the hopes, labors, and pastimes of the peasantry, as the artist deftly explores a vast selection of individuals cohabiting and cooperating in their earthly pursuits. Exhausted and burdened by the tools of their trade, the hunters that emerge from the distant hills come home to the crystalline clarity of their small-town life. Laid out before them are the mouths they are returning to feed, and the small micro-society upon whom they too rely. Far in the distance, but central to the scene, is a horde of villagers skating on a frozen lake. The fragility of the cracking ice reminds the huntsmen, and the viewer, of the transitory value of life, love, and the simple pleasures of communal living.