This Census by Pieter Brueghel the Younger was painted from a model by his father from 1566 (Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels). In the foreground, Joseph, identified by the saw and the basket of carpentry tools, is leading the pregnant Virgin Mary on a donkey to the inn called ‘In de groene krans’, in Bethlehem. Lots of people are milling around, as the emperor has decided to hold a census for the purpose of taxation, officials are busy registering the population. It is striking that Brueghel depicts Bethlehem as a Flemish village in wintertime, where children and adults are enjoying the snow and ice, without any biblical trimmings at all.


  • Title: Census at Bethlehem
  • Creator: Workshop Pieter Brueghel the Younger
  • Date: around 1605-1610
  • Location Created: Belgium
  • Physical Dimensions: 143 x 194 x 10 cm
  • Provenance: Loan Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. © Peter Cox/Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht
  • Medium: oil on panel

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