The Artist, Pieter Brueghel’s “Children’s Games (1560 AD)

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I recently came across this wonderful painting by Pieter Brueghel entitled "Children's Games" (in order to more fully appreciate it, you can visit this link which allows you to expand different areas of the canvas.)

100px-BRU_-_CHD_36I spent quite a bit of time exploring its streets, windows, and fences. All of what I found seemed both familiar and absurd. The games are familiar but the children seem a little dangerous and even freakish. Look closely and you will find a game of "Blind Man's Bluff", a girl making mud pies, small children playing peek-a-boo, boys riding stick horses, rolling hoops, and spinning tops. And then there is the image of a child, cheeks inflated, blowing up an animal bladder, a 16th-century precursor to the modern latex balloon.

There is also something disquieting along the corners and edges.  What is going on in the window on the top left? And why, on the far right side of the painting, are children beating that little boy on the head while their hats sit on the ground?

All of this is the work of Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel, also known as Pieter Bruegel the Elder. He was known for his depictions of peasant life. This work, "Children's Games", provides us with a vivid picture as to how ordinary children played in a time before manufactured toys and games. Spend some time with it and experience what it was like to be a child 500 years ago.


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