IN THE LARGER PAINTING ENTITLED CHILDREN'S Games
(Figure 1), from which the 5 details on this month's cover are drawn, more than 230 children have taken over the streets of a 16th-century Flemish village. They are playing at more than 85 different pastimes in all. If paintings came with soundtracks, Children's Games might require turning down the volume.
Artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder sold his work chiefly to merchants, scholars, and collectors in Antwerp, then a wealthy trade center. Although he lived in the city and mixed easily with the educated and well-to-do, he acquired the nickname "Peasant Bruegel" because of his fondness for portraying the people and customs of the Flemish countryside. He and a friend were known to don peasant garb and blend into village life, observing with special interest what people of all ages did in public. Sometimes the pair would even show up uninvited at a peasant wedding, bringing gifts and passing themselves off as friends of the bride or groom. Like Children's Games, several of Bruegel's other paintings are packed with figures and bustling with activity: often witty visual commentaries on such themes as folk proverbs or holiday festivities.
Koepsell TD. Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525/1530–1569)Five Details From Children's Games (1560). Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004;158(1):10. doi:10.1001/archpedi.158.1.10