The Limbourgs chose a winter scene to represent
this month, often the coldest of the year. They have
painted it with extraordinary veracity, rendering
details with a realism that captures the atmosphere of
this harsh season. Pale light from a wan sky falls onto
the whitened countryside. The starkness of the snow
underlines planes and accentuates details, giving the
landscape a particular sharpness. In the distance a village hides its snow-covered roofs between two hills.
A peasant on the road approaches the town, driving his donkey laden with the goods he intends to sell there.
In the foreground a farm is represented, its every element executed with meticulous care: the dovecote, heehives, cart, casks, sheepfold, a hare tree, the house and the wattled enclosure. Near the farm a young man cuts wood; in front of the dovecote a benumbed figure clutching a wool coat over his head and shoulders hurries home. A large fire shines from the wooden house in which two peasants immodestly warm their legs while the mistress of the house, elegant in a lovely blue dress, warms herself with more decorum. Linen has heen hung to dry on rods along the walls, and smoke curls from the chimney.
The severity of winter is further emphasized by the birds huddled near the house, scratching for food which the snow makes it impossible to find elsewhere.
Everything in this picture of winter is noted with care and rendered with skill, attesting to the painters' power of observation and the perfection of their art.
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