POSTPONED - Will be rescheduled in 2020

Why Paintings Matter: Filming Bruegel’s Hunters in the Snow (1565)​

Presented by Dr Andrea Bubenik

Date: Friday 25 October, 2019
Time: 3:00pm-4:00pm
Location: Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2), Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37) 


Hunters in the Snow (1565) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder is usually treated in art history as a traditional depiction of one of the ‘labours of the month’, well suited to its original context and contemporary taste. This seemingly quaint painting has experienced an intensive afterlife – replicated so often that we are almost numb to it, and featured on countless Christmas cards. What has thus far gone unremarked is the peculiar and intensive reception of the painting in film, and (I will argue) its resulting importance to ecocriticism. In Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972), Lars von Trier’s Melancholia (2011), and Abbas Kiarostami’s 24 Frames (2017), Bruegel’s painting has played pivotal roles: from acting as a mnemonic trigger and catalyst for levitation, to being obliterated and treated with violence, to an animation of its microscopic inhabitants as a narrative device. These contrasting interpretations raise the same question: what exactly do we see when a painting is filmed; how do we experience the painting differently? A clue seems to reside in the potentials of film and paint to enact different textures of time, or what George Kubler called “the interchronic pause”, the moment when seemingly nothing is happening. As Kubler would have it, these instants of actuality are “all we can ever know directly”. The pauses in these films, dictated by Bruegel’s painting, merit attention for the critical thinking they enable. Moreover (as I will argue in this paper) these films lend an urgent and timely ecocritical edge to Hunters in the Snow, in defiance of its usual early modern periodization and the useless classification of ‘western masterpiece’.


Andrea Bubenik is Senior Lecturer in Art History at the University of Queensland, Australia. In her research and teaching she focuses on Renaissance and Baroque art, and the afterlives and migrations of images. Her books include Reframing Albrecht Dürer (2013), Perspectives on Wenceslaus Hollar (co-edited with Anne Thackray, 2018) and The Persistence of Melancholia (editor, 2019). She was the curator of the exhibitions Five Centuries of Melancholia (2014) and Ecstasy: Baroque and Beyond (2017), both held at the University of Queensland Art Museum.


Image credit: Hunters in the Snow (1565) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder


About Research Seminar and Workshop Series


School of Communication and Arts Research Seminar Series

The research seminar and workshop series occur each semester, each with a different topic and guest speaker from UQ or otherwise.

Friday, 11 March

Online via Zoom

Research Seminar - Tuning In with the Stethoscope in the Nineteenth CenturyDr Melissa Dickson (University of Birmingham)

Friday, 25 March


Early Adventures in Australian Actor Training

Dr Chris Hay

Friday, 8 April

Online via Zoom

Invention and reinvention in the landscape symbolism of Joachim PatinirMichael Levy

Friday, 29 April

Online via Zoom

Negotiating balance of cultures among Chinese Australians to facilitate ageing well

A/Prof Shuang Liu

Friday, 13 May


Redefining crisis in museums: insider’s perspectives on digital engagement

Dr Caroline Wilson-Barnao, Craig Middleton (National Museum of Australia), and Lisa Enright

Friday, 3 June

Hybrid: Online via Zoom and in person at the
SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

A journey through the Australian environmental movement ecosystem

Dr Robyn Gulliver

Friday, 10 June

Online via Zoom

TBADr Alex Bevan



Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2), Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)