This famous pair of prints was based on compositions by Hans Sebald Beham, one of the German 'Little Masters'. The two emotions depicted - laughing and wailing - are those identified by the art theoretician Karel van Mander (1548-1606) as being particularly difficult for painters to simulate. They are meant to be displayed back to back, avoiding eye contact with one another, but trying to establish it with the viewer. The complaining peasant has a hunched-up, sour-faced look, whilst the other figure stands with his hands behind his back, cheerfully impervious to the rigours of winter. Many observers believe the peasant on the left is a self-portrait.