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Feast & Fast

The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800

56: Winter landscape with bird trap

Winter landscape with bird trap When food was scarcer in the Winter, poorer communities would set up communal bird traps like the simple yet lethal ‘dead-fall’ trap shown in this painting. An old wooden door has been elevated from the ground by a wooden prop, and bait placed beneath. When unsuspecting birds flew in to eat the bait, the trap would be triggered, the door would fall, and they would be killed instantaneously beneath the heavy weight. Many wild birds were hunted for the table, from large pheasants and swans to tiny songbirds, by landed nobility on their private estates. The less well-off hunted birds legally on common land and illegally on private land, using the cheapest and most effective methods possible, depending on the season, ranging from taking birds from their nests to setting traps and nets.

Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564 –1638)

Antwerp, Belgium, 1626 Oil on panel

Private Collection

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