Pieter Brueghel II (Brussels 1564/5-1637/8 Antwerp), The Birdtrap. Oil on oak panel. Estimate: £1,000,000–1,500,000.
Conceived by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, The Birdtrap became one of the most enduringly popular compositions in Netherlandish landscape tradition, with no fewer than 127 versions having survived from the Brueghel family studio.
Thought to have been inspired by one of his father’s works — Hunters in the Snow — The Birdtrap similarly depicts a winter scene, though in considerably less somber terms. Here, the purposeful group of men in Brueghel the Elder’s composition are replaced by figures that skate, curl and play skittles and hockey on a frozen river — flashes of red clothing bringing life to an otherwise muted winter palette.With thanks, courtesy Christies. Christies evening auction 8th December 2015.