Do you remember Where’s Wally?, the illustrated puzzle books for children, by Martin Handford, where you had to pick out, in a double-page drawing featuring dozens of people, a boy in red-and-white striped pullover, bobble hat and glasses, the eponymous Wally. (I think the series was called Where’s Waldo in the United States and Canada.)
I was reminded of Wally (or Waldo) when looking at Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s extraordinary painting Children’s Games, above. [When we’ve done the cultural bit, you can search for Wally/Waldo yourself in the YouTube video below. Meanwhile…]
Peter Bruegel the Elder is perhaps the most famous of the Bruegel family which flourished the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th century. He loved incorporating details of village life in his paintings. Writing about Children’s Games, Irina Diana Calu says in a fascinating article in the onlineDailyArt: “Just like in other works of his, it is debatable whether it was just a representation of everyday life or had a deeper meaning through hidden symbols. Bruegel loved to depict life in “ all its details, from villagers’ gestures and facial expressions to the clothes they wore and the food they ate, or the games children played.”
The picture shows more than 250 children playing more than 90 games. Irina’s analysis is a great read (Click here to do so) and I just thought I’d show you a glimpse of the bottom left-hand section, as analysed by Irina.
There’s a make-believe wedding passing the top corner of the fence, while below, a boy tries to pass through his friends’ kicking legs. Irina says: “It was a game of speed and attention, and you could end up with serious bruises.”
There are plenty more children playing different games in this section of the painting alone, but if you want to find out about you will have to read Irina’s article. But first, I offered you a chance to look for Wally. So, open the YouTube video below and see how you get on. You need to find him in 60 seconds, before they tell you where he is.
Did you find him?
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