Artwork Title: The Census at Bethlehem - Artist Name: Pieter Bruegel the Elder

The Census at Bethlehem

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1566

The painting depicts Mary and Joseph in the snow of Flanders, he leading with a red hat and long carpenter’s saw over his shoulder. They are surrounded by Auden’s people ‘eating or opening a window or just walking dully along’. And here are the children, ‘skating on a pond at the edge of the wood’ with their spinning tops and impromptu toboggans, sliding on the ice. In The Census at Bethlehem, the biblical scene is so completely integrated into Bruegel’s depiction of a Flemish village on a late winter afternoon that you might miss the holy couple on their way to be counted. On the left is the tavern which is serving as the census-taking station. However, what Bruegel has chosen to portray is not enumeration, but rather taxes being paid... The people standing in front of the window are paying their taxes, while the officials inside a re receiving the coins and registering the amount in... []

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