Pieter Bruegel the Elder

In the first of a series of reproductions, Cromer Artspace, working with the Kunsthistorischen Museum in Vienna, has brought an original size reproduction of Children’s Games, by Pieter Brueghel the Elder to Cromer.

Children’s Games is on display in West Street.

Pieter Brueghel the Elder, extract from ‘The Painter and The Connoisseur’,  1565, possibly Bruegel’s self-portrait

Pieter Brueghel the Elder was an innovative Flemish Renaissance painter and printmaker, known for his landscapes and peasant scenes. He was apprenticed early in his life to painter Pieter Croecke van Aelst. In 1551, around the age of 26, he was accepted into a painters’ guild in Antwerp as a master painter.

His nickname was “Peasant Brueghel,” as he would often wear peasant’s clothing and attend social gatherings and weddings, in order to mingle and interact with the locals, and gain insight and inspiration for his paintings. He fathered two other prominent Flemish painters, Pieter Brueghel the Younger and Jan Brueghel the Elder, although it is thought that they were not taught by their father, as he died when they were young children.

Find our more about the artist here.

Children’s Games

Oil on panel
118 cm × 161 cm (46 in × 63 in)
Original at Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Picturing more than two hundred children playing over eighty different games, Children’s Games (1560) is one of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s most intriguing and least understood paintings. Painted just 9 years before he died, The painting depicts a rather odd Dutch townscape and countryside overrun with children playing games.

There is no information regarding who commissioned the original painting and this has led to lively debate regarding the meaning behind the painting. One popular theory states it is a moral comment, using children’s games as a metaphor for the foolishness and folly of adults. An opposing idea, based on 16th century humanist theory, is that the painting shows the importance of play in children’s development. The painting itself can be seen as a kind of game; the small figures encouraging the viewer to look carefully to find as many games as possible.


Children's Games (Bruegel)
Pieter Bruegel, Children’s Games, Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna

See details of the games and activities here.

Find out more about the painting here.

We are pleased to be supported by the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, where the original artwork is on display.