On thin ice – Allegorical snow landscape from Christian IV’s Winter Room

When chances of a white Christmas are slim, one must settle for the enjoyments of winter life in the arts. Even though it looks grey outside the windows, the snow lies heavily in this fine painting, exhibited at Rosenborg. The paintng is a copy after the Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569), who is famous for his allegorical works, for example “The Tower of Babel” from 1563.

The painting is very aptly displayed in Christian IV’s Winter Room in the castle, and portrays a small Dutch village covered in snow. Even though it looks idyllic with the peasants’ carefree play on the ice, several allegorical interpretations of the painting point in a more gloomy direction.

One interpretation argues that the bird trap in the right hand side of the painting symbolizes the devil tempting the weak souls. Another one argues that the ice skates that run over the ice symbolizes the insecurity of existence. It is a ‘memento mori’, a reminder that the fragile ice will not hold forever, but inevitably will break, as a sign of our mortality.

The painting is an example of the fact that something is always hiding just beneath the surface, but of course you can also just enjoy it for its lovely portrayal of a winter landscape.

If you need something to strengthen your soul after the brooding frame of mind the painting causes, The Royal Danish Collection offers mulled wine and “æbleskiver”, provided you have bought our special Christmas Ticket. Read more about the ticket here, and enjoy the beautiful paintings in the Winter Room followed by a cosy break in The Garden Café on the castle grounds.


af Rosenborg Slot den 17.12.2018

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