The Harvesters (1565)

Bruegel the Elder, Pieter (c.1525-1569)

The Harvesters (August-September)
Oil on wood, 119 x 162 cm
Metropolitan Museum of ArtNew York

In this work, the viewer is transported to a hot summer day in the Netherlands. It belongs to a series, commissioned by the Antwerp merchant Niclaes Jongelinck for his suburban home. The cycle originally included six paintings showing the times of the year. Apart from The Harvesters, which is usually identified as representing July–August, four other paintings of the group have survived (now in the Kunsthistorisches MuseumVienna, and Lobkowicz Collection, Prague). Bruegel’s series is a watershed in the history of Western art. The religious pretext for landscape painting has been suppressed in favor of a new humanism, and the unidealized description of the local scene is based on natural observations. (MET)