The Gloomy Day
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Arty Fact

More about The Gloomy Day

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Pieter Bruegel The Elder’s The Gloomy Day is part of a series of six paintings depicting the different seasons of the year. Though only five still survive.

The series is aptly called Seasons, and the remaining pictures are named Hunters in the Snow, The Return of the Herd, Haymaking, and The Harvesters.

But before we get into some of the dope things on display in this painting, we gotta talk about my dude’s MC name for a second. Pieter Bruegel The Elder?! That’s the hottest name in the game. With a name like that, you’ve gotta drop that heat on the canvas. No excuses.

And I mean, I guess he did. Which is why a wealthy guy by the name of Nicolaes Jonghelinck commissioned Bruegel to make the set of paintings. It’s kinda like Martin Shkreli buying that Wu Tang album and hiding it from the world. That’s not to say that Jonghelinck is a dick like Shkreli, but to get a personalized piece of art by one of the hottest in the game is without a doubt a flex. That’s a lot of clout.

If The Gloomy Day was on an album featuring all our seasons, it would probably be the second track. And it would be somber and reflective, most likely dealing with loss and maybe regret. But it would have a glimmer of hope toward the end to lighten up the mood. That’s because it takes place in the winter, the time of year when people are bundled up or warmth, and the life and vibrancy of spring and summer is a distant memory.

You might be thinking, “Yo, this is a dope landscape that really does a great job of effectively telling a story in the foreground, mid-ground, and background." And if you thought that, you’d be very observant, and very right. Bruegal the Elder got his landscape heat from a painter named Joachim Patinir, who died around the time Bruegel was born. The major difference between the two was that Bruegel added people to his landscapes, making them more intimate for the audience.

As I mentioned before, this is from a series of paintings that depict six various stages of the year, or six seasons. The Gloomy Day’s lack of vegetation on the ground and in the trees, bring us into a convincing winter, but there’s another reason it feels authentic. By including people in his landscape paintings, Bruegel made them more snapshots of a scene rather than a study of an area. The Gloomy Day is no exception. And it’s the people that really sell what season it is. The Gloomy Day’s got a few dudes pollarding a tree, which means they’re stripping the top branches to speed up the growth of leaves and maybe some fruit. There’s also a few boats out in the sea. Maybe they’re fishing for food because there’s nothing growing on the land. Looks like they’re having a hard time in the rough waters, though.

As authentically winter as The Gloomy Day is, the foreshadowing of spring comes with tinges of green sprinkled within the water and the sky. That dark laurel color simultaneously makes this scene live up to its name, while planting the seeds of the coming spring into the ground and in the minds of the viewer.



  1. Allen, Brian T. ‘Bruegel: The Hand of the Master’ Makes Its Debut”. National Review. December 22, 2018.
  2. Amenoff, Gregory. “Gregory Amenoff on Pieter Bruegel”. Painters on Paintings. November 2, 2015.
  3. Stanska, Zuzanna. “Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Harvesters”. Daily Art Magazine. June, 12, 2017.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about The Gloomy Day

The Gloomy Day is an oil on wood painting by Pieter Bruegel in 1565. The painting is one in a series of six works, five of which are still extant, that depict different times of the year. The painting is currently in the collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, located in Vienna, Austria.

The scene is set around February and March, portrayed by the bleak atmosphere and leafless trees. The paper crown around the boy's head and the eating of waffles are references to the Carnival time prior to Lent. The sky, the ships crashing against the shoreline, and the children preparing themselves in the foreground suggest that harsh weather is coming.

Bruegel is famous for his paintings of scenery and nature. Most of his paintings of the countryside tell a story or have a moral message.

The surviving Months of the Year cycle are:

Check out the full Wikipedia article about The Gloomy Day.