Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Netherlandish, Breda (?) ca. 1525–1569 Brussels)
Oil on wood
Overall, including added strips at top, bottom, and right, 46 7/8 x 63 3/4 in. (119 x 162 cm); original painted surface 45 7/8 x 62 7/8 in. (116.5 x 159.5 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1919
Not on view
This panel 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, or late summer, four other paintings of the group have survived (now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, 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.
A ripe field of wheat has been partially cut and stacked, while in the foreground a group of peasants, pausing in their work, picnics in the relative shade of a pear tree. Behind them and to their left we see that work continues: a couple gathers wheat into bundles and ties them; three men cut the stalks with scythes as women make their way through a corridor in the field, carrying stacks of grain over their shoulders. The scene continues to unfold in the distance, where there is a valley animated with scenes of village life, another immense wheat field, and a bay with the traffic of several ships.
The peasants picnicking in the foreground—the off-center focus of the painting—have used stacks of grain as benches and are consuming bread and bowls of milk in addition to pears from the tree. Opposite them, a man sleeps in a position of complete abandon, a pose that is repeated in Bruegel's painting Land of Cockaigne (Alte Pinakothek, Munich). In a humorous touch, two peasants gaze out at us as they eat, suggesting momentarily that we may be the subject and they the viewer. Mankind and nature are so inextricably bound together that grain grows from the headdress of a woman gathering wheat in the background and she has taken on the form of a haystack.
The Harvesters is one of five surviving paintings from a probable group of six, a series commissioned from Bruegel by the wealthy Antwerp merchant Niclaes Jongelinck, apparently as an extensive decorative scheme for the dining room of his suburban home, Ter Beken. The four other paintings of the group are the Gloomy Day, Hunters in the Snow, and the Return of the Herd (all Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), and Haymaking (Lobkowicz Collections, Prague). Although "16 pieces" by the artist are listed in Jongelinck's 1566 inventory, only two independent works and the Twelff maenden (twelve months) are mentioned by name, suggesting that the series may originally have included twelve paintings. By 1595, however, when the panels were purchased by the city of Antwerp and presented as a gift to Archduke Ernst, they are described as six paintings representing the twelve months. Although the original number of panels remains an open question, most scholars now believe there were only six panels, as scenes that would traditionally have appeared in two separate months in contemporary Calendar series (a theme common in illuminated manuscripts) are included in a single image. Our panel is usually identified as representing July–August, or late summer.
Iain Buchanan (1990) suggests that Bruegel's series was thematically connected with other works of art commissioned by Jongelinck for his home: a series of the Planets commissioned from his brother, the sculptor Jacques Jongelinck, and paintings of the Seven Liberal Arts and the Labors of Hercules by Frans Floris.
The series is a watershed in the history of Western art. The limitation of landscape to a supporting role in Christian devotional painting—so closely adhered to by artists of both the northern and southern Renaissance—has been abandoned, and we have in its place a new Humanism, at once pastoral and vernacular. In an extraordinary reversal, unidealized scenes with peasants cultivating the land, tending their herds, and hunting appear in a dominant landscape.
Bruegel's drawing Spring (Albertina, Vienna) is inscribed by the artist "De Lenten Meert April Meij," and may resemble in subject the missing panel of the months that presumably represented April-May or early spring.
[Mary Sprinson de Jesús 2010]
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): BRVEGEL / [MD]LXV [now largely illegible]
Niclaes Jongelinck, Antwerp (by 1566); [Hane von Wijke, Antwerp, until 1594; sold for fl 1,400 to Antwerp City Council as a gift for Archduke Ernst]; Archduke Ernst, governor of the Netherlands, Brussels (1594–d. 1595; inv., 1595, nos. 7–12, listed as "Sechs Taffell, von 12 Monathenn des Jars von Bruegel"); Emperor Rudolph II, Prague (until d. 1612); Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, governor of the Netherlands, Brussels and Vienna (until d. 1662; inv., 1659, nos. 582–86, "Fünff grosse Stuckh einer Grossen, warin die Zeithen desz Jahrs von Öhlfarb auf Holcz . . . Original vom alten Brögel"); Emperor Leopold I, Vienna (1662–d. 1705); Imperial collection, Vienna (until 1809); comte Antoine-François Andréossy, Vienna and Paris (1809–16; his sale, Pérignon, Paris, March 11, 1816, no. 1, as "Par un maître de l'ancienne École allemande . . . Un paysage du plus grand détail, offrant les travaux de la moisson . . . L. 58 p[ouces]., h. 44 p[ouces]. . . . Avec la date de 1546," for Fr 90.11); Jacques Doucet, Paris (until shortly before 1912; sold to Cels); Paul Jean Cels, Brussels (until 1919; sold to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Taste of Today in Masterpieces of Painting before 1900," July 10–October 2, 1932, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Landscape Paintings," May 14–September 30, 1934, no. 17.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art Treasures of the Metropolitan," November 7, 1952–September 7, 1953, no. 105.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Masterpieces of Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 16–November 1, 1970, unnumbered cat.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 15, 1970–February 15, 1971, no. 236.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 22, 1998–February 21, 1999, no. 102.
Document. February 21, 1565 [old calendar; 1566, new calendar] [Stadsarchief, Antwerp, Tresorij 1711, no. 1551; entire document published in Ref. Denucé 1932, p. 5; key phrases cited perhaps more accurately in Ref. van de Velde 1965, p. 123], states that the art collection of Niclaes Jongelinck is pledged as collateral for the tax arrears owed by Daniel de Bruyne to the city of Antwerp; mentions "sixteen pieces" by Bruegel, specifically citing the Tower of Babel, the Carrying of the Cross, and the Twelve Months ("Tweelff maenden").
Blasius Hütter [secretary to Archduke Ernst]. Entry in account book. July 5, 1594 [Algemeen Rijksarchief, Brussels; Manuscrits Divers No. 2924, fol. 147v., 148], states that on this day the Antwerp city fathers presented the Archduke with eight tapestries and six paintings representing the twelve months [published in French, and perhaps rearranged, in Ref. Coremans 1847, p. 101].
Document.  [Stadsarchief, Antwerp, Privilegekamer 1632, no. 36; cited in Ref. Buchanan 1990, p. 542 n. 10], records the purchase of tapestries from Merten Reynbouts [a well-known Brussels tapestry maker] for 8,550 florins, and of six paintings [presumably the Bruegel Months] from Hane van Wijke for 1,400 florins, to present as a gift on July 5 [see Ref. Hütter 1594].
Posthumous inventory of the collection of Archduke Ernst. July 17, 1595 [Algemeen Rijksarchief, Brussels, Pap. d'État et de l'Aud., no. 1196], lists the paintings as nos. 7–12, "Sechs Taffell, von 12 Monathenn des Jars von Bruegel" [published in Ref. Maeyer 1955, p. 259].
Inventory of the collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm. 1659, nos. 582–86, as "Fünff grosse Stuckh einer Grossen, warin die Zeithen desz Jahrs von Öhlfarb auf Holcz. Die Ramen alt, schwartz vnd zier verguldt, die Höche 6 Span 4 Finger vnd 8 1/2 Span braith. Original vom alten Brögel." [published in Ref. Berger 1883, p. cxliii].
David Teniers the Younger. Theatrum Pictorium . . . Brussels, 1660, unpaginated, 2nd p. of text, quotes a letter from an anonymous friend who had seen six Bruegels in the archducal gallery in the Staalburg at Vienna [also French ed., Le Théâtre des peintures, Brussels, 1660; see Ref. Tolnay 1938, p. 121].
Chrétien de Mechel. Catalogue des tableaux de la Galerie Impériale et Royale de Vienne. Basel, 1784, p. 184, no. 62, catalogues a set of paintings of the Four Seasons by Pieter Bruegel the Elder in the Belvedere in Vienna, including one representing Summer, which could be either our picture or Hay Making: "L'Été, [représenté] par des moissonneurs dans une plaine très-étendue"; identifies The Return of the Herd as Autumn, and erroneously includes in the series Children's Games, which he calls Spring, and The Massacre of the Innocents, which he calls Winter.
[A.] Coremans. "L'Archiduc Ernest, sa cour, ses dépenses, 1593–1595. D'après les comptes de Blaise Hütter, son secrétaire intime et premier valet de chambre." Compte-rendu des séances de la Commission royale d'histoire 13 (), pp. 101, 141, publishes [incompletely and not quite accurately, according to Ref. Grossmann 1959, and not in original German] the 1594 entry in Hütter's account book [see Ref.] in which the archduke was presented with six paintings representing the twelve months.
Adolf Berger, ed. "Inventar der Kunstsammlung des Erzherzogs Leopold Wilhelm von Österreich." Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen des allerhöchsten Kaiserhauses 1 (1883), p. cxliii, publishes the archduke's 1659 inventory [see Ref.].
É. von Engerth. "Über die im Kunsthistorischen Museum neu zur Aufstellung gelangenden Gemälde, 3: Niederländische Schulen." Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen des allerhöchsten Kaiserhauses 2 (1884), pp. 156–57, associates with the five paintings of the months mentioned in Archduke Leopold Wilhelm's 1659 inventory an autumn mountain landscape hanging in the Belvedere, a second autumn landscape and a Winter, which have been in storage in the Belvedere for 100 years and are now on exhibition, and a Summer [our picture] which was carried off to Paris in 1809 and never returned; notes that the panel with Spring seems to be lost; observes that the paintings are not described in the inventory, and the fact that there were five led to the conclusion that some of the times of year must have been doubled up; adds that the painting in the Belvedere with children's games, which Mechel [see Ref. 1784] includes as Spring in Bruegel's series of Seasons, cannot be associated with this group, as its focus is on the figures rather than on the landscape.
Theodor von Frimmel. Geschichte der Wiener Gemäldesammlungen. Vol. 1, Einleitung und Geschichte der Kaiserlichen Gemäldegalerie. Leipzig, 1899, p. 473, calls the three paintings in Vienna "Herbstlandschaft," "Frühlingslandschaft," and "Winterlandschaft" and supports Engerth's [see Ref. 1884] view that they were originally part of a series of "Jahreszeiten".
Georges H[ulin]. de Loo in René van Bastelaer. "Un Catalogue raisonné de son oeuvre peint." Peter Brvegel l'Ancien, son oeuvre et son temps. Brussels, 1907, pp. 302, 304, 343–44, no. B.34, gives the history of the five pictures that belonged to Leopold Wilhelm; catalogues the three pictures in Vienna, calling inv. no. 711 The Dark Day, Winter Landscape (January), inv. no. 713 Hunters in the Snow, Winter Landscape (February?), and inv. no. 709 Return of the Herd, Autumn Landscape (November); identifies a painting at the Château de Raudnitz as part of the series, calling it Haymaking, Summer Landscape? (June), and observes that the fifth picture [our Harvesters], presumably representing spring, has never been found; notes that it is not clear whether the pictures represent the seasons, in which winter appears in two different aspects, or an incomplete series of the months; mentions having seen a painting on the art market in Brussels with harvesters at rest in the foreground, but adds that there were horses near them, and that although the painting was in the style of Bruegel, it was certainly a copy or imitation.
B[ryson]. B[urroughs]. "The Harvesters by Pieter Bruegel the Elder." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 16 (May 1921), pp. 96–99, 102–3, ill., identifies this work as the lost panel of the five belonging in 1659 to Archduke Leopold William, observing that the picture was bought by the Museum as a work by the school of Bruegel the Elder; believes that the paintings were part of an incomplete series of twelve, and that our picture represents August; observes that the artist developed the composition directly on the panel since "the changes made as the picture progressed are evident on close examination"; notes that the signature and date were revealed when the picture was cleaned, but the condition of the date leaves questions of chronology for these paintings open; believes that this painting and the Haymakers were both inspired by the Brabant countryside that Bruegel represents in one of his series of drawings called the Large Landscapes, Pagus Nemorosus (Brabançon Landscape).
Max J. Friedländer. Pieter Bruegel. Berlin, 1921, pp. 102–6, fig. 57, includes it in the Vienna-Roudnice series, which he believes was originally a group of twelve paintings, one for each month; illustrates our picture as a representation of July, the Corn Harvest, but in his text seems to associate it with August.
Willy Burger. "Pieter Bruegel d. Ä." Die Kunst für Alle 37 (1921–22), p. 242, ill. p. 239, refers to the picture as July, the Corn Harvest.
Friedrich Winkler. Die altniederländische Malerei: Die Malerei in Belgien und Holland von 1400–1600. Berlin, 1924, pp. 345–46, fig. 203.
Willy Burger. Die Malerei in den Niederlanden 1400–1550. Munich, 1925, p. 144, pl. 235, views the series as representing individual months, and our panel as the month of July, Corn Harvest.
[Tancred Borenius]. "'The Harvesters' by Pieter Breughel [sic]." Apollo 2 (1925), pp. 47–49, ill., observes that in all probability the five pictures "are the remains of a series of the twelve months . . . the New York picture being an allegory of the month of August".
Art News 24, section 2 (June 12, 1926), ill. opp. p. 3, as The Harvest, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
Virgil Barker. "Pieter Bruegel the Elder: A Study of His Paintings." Arts 10 (September 1926), pp. 156, 160, 162–63, 175–76, ill., remarks that the "composition scheme in the set of the 'Months' is shockingly, though intentionally, repetitious": the panels are divided into two parts by a bold diagonal, one of which is filled "with things and people seen close at hand, and the other with a far-spreading panorama".
Ludwig Baldass inKatalog der Gemäldegalerie. 1st ed. Vienna, 1928, p. 30, wonders whether Haymaking (Castle Roudnice) was originally part of the series and implies that were it not, he would be inclined to view the paintings as seasons, rather than as months.
Otto Benesch inBeiträge zur Geschichte der Deutschen Kunst. Ed. Ernst Buchner and Karl Feuchtmayr. Vol. 2, Augsburger Kunst der Spätgotik und Renaissance. Augsburg, 1928, p. 232 [reprinted in Otto Benesch, Collected Writings. Ed. Eva Benesch. 4 vols. London, 1970–73, vol. 3, German and Austrian Art of the 15th and 16th centuries, 1972, p. 252], sees Jorg Breu's "Saint Bernard at the Harvest" (Stiftskirche, Zwettl) as anticipating this work.
Elfried Bock and Jakob Rosenberg. Die Niederländischen Meister. Berlin, 1930, vol. 1, p. 22, publish, but do not reproduce, a drawing after The Harvesters (no. 13220, Der Monat Juli), which they assign to the end of the sixteenth century and tentatively ascribe to P. Balten.
Édouard Michel. Bruegel. Paris, 1931, pp. 49–50, 132, no. 18, pl. 24, refers to it as the fifth and last of the series of the seasons belonging to Archduke Leopold Wilhelm; identifies it as "la 'Moisson' (Juillet sans doute)" but hesitates to attribute it without seeing the original.
Jean Denucé. The Antwerp Art-Galleries: Inventories of the Art-Collections in Antwerp in the 16th and 17th Centuries. The Hague, 1932, p. 5, publishes the document from the Antwerp archives in which Niclaes Jongelinck gives his collection to the city of Antwerp, including "Tweelf maenden" by Bruegel [see Ref. 1566].
Gustav Glück. Bruegels Gemälde. Vienna, 1932, pp. 40–42, 60, 66–69, colorpl. 22, believes that The Harvesters, representing July, belonged to a never-completed series of twelve panels of the months, which also included Haymaking (June) in Castle Roudnice, and three paintings in the Vienna Museum: Hunters in the Snow (February), The Gloomy Day (March), and The Return of the Herd (November), but adds that it is not always clear which months are represented; notes that until the rediscovery of our panel, Haymaking was erroneously associated with the picture representing Summer mentioned by Mechel [see Ref. 1784] as in the Belvedere, but believes The Harvesters is the picture he describes; observes that our picture was taken to France in 1805 and was not returned after the liberation of Vienna in 1809; notes that Bruegel also began a series of drawings of the times of the year in 1565, completing only Spring and Summer, which were engraved in 1570 after the artist's death.
Pantheon 12 (1933), ill. opp. p. 297.
Kurt Zoege von Manteuffel. Pieter Brueghel Landschaften. Berlin, 1934, pp. 13–15, colorpl. VIII, believes that there were originally twelve panels, some of which have been lost, but adds that the series may never have been finished; calls ours one of two "Sommerbilder" and assumes that it represents July, although this is not certain.
Karl von Tolnai. "Studien zu den Gemälden P. Bruegels d. Ä." Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien, n.s., 8 (1934), pp. 125–28, observes that the compositions of these paintings reflect the spirit of the romantic world-landscape of the Netherlands, while the individual motifs connect them with the calendar miniatures of the late Middle Ages; notes that scenes that one would normally expect to see in different months appear together in the same picture and concludes that there were originally six paintings in which neighboring months were paired up; believes that the compositions were conceived as pendants, and that the series started with Hunters in the Snow (December/January), which belonged with The Gloomy Day (February/March); April/May (the missing painting) was pendant to Haymaking (June/July), and our Harvesters (August/September) belonged with The Return of the Herd (October/November).
Hans Tietze. Meisterwerke europäischer Malerei in Amerika. Vienna, 1935, p. 335, pl. 148 [English ed., "Masterpieces of European Painting in America," New York, 1939, p. 319, pl. 148], as in the Imperial Gallery, Vienna, until 1805; erroneously states that it was purchased from the Doucet collection in 1930.
Ernst Günter Troche. Niederländische Malerei. Berlin, 1935, p. 27, pl. 99, thinks our painting is probably the month of July.
Charles de Tolnay. Pierre Bruegel l'Ancien. Brussels, 1935, pp. 37–38, 40, 55, 69–70 nn. 85d–e, p. 84, no. 19, figs. 79–81 on pls. XLVIII and XLIX (overall and details), identifies our picture as La Moisson, representing August and September.
Marcel Brion. Breughel. Paris, 1936, p. 33.
Paul Colin. Bruegel le vieux. Paris, 1936, pp. 131–32, 141–44, ill. p. 97, finds Tolnay's hypothesis [see Refs. 1934 and 1935] of six paintings, each comprising two seasons, the most reasonable; observes [without giving a source, but presumably referring to Ref. Baldass 1928] that it has been suggested, less credibly, that due to differences of style in the Haymakers it may not originally have been part of the series, which would thus have included only four panels, each one representing a single season; remarks elsewhere in his text on the lesser quality of the Haymakers.
Éd[ouard]. Ewbank. "Un Bock avec le peintre Adolphe Crespin, ou Breughel, peintre de la Suisse, Pourquoi pas." unknown revue published in Brussels 26 (February 28, 1936), pp. 522–23 [according to Ref. Deonna 1937, this article appeared in a revue published in Brussels].
Gustav Glück. Pieter Brueghel the Elder. New York, 1936, pp. 22–23, 43, no. 29, colorpls. 29 and 29a–c (overall and details), states that the series originally included six paintings of the seasons of the year, each portraying two months, beginning with March and April (according to the calendar of the Spanish Netherlands); observes that "full summer, the months of July and August, with the paralysing effect of the heat, is unmistakable" in our picture, which he calls The Corn Harvest.
Gustav Glück. Bilder aus Bruegels Bildern. Vienna, 1936, pp. 13–14, 20, colorpls. 28–30 (details).
Gustav Glück. Das Bruegel Buch. Vienna, 1936, pp. 20–22, no. 23, ill. (color); and in a slightly different edition of the same book, also Vienna, 1936, pp. 20–21, no. 25, believes the pictures belonged to a series of twelve, and that ours represents the month of July, the time of the corn harvest.
Édouard Michel. "Bruegel le Vieux a-t-il passé à Genève?" Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 15 (1936), pp. 105–7, fig. 1, notes that Adolphe Crespin, professor at the Académie des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, pointed out to him the striking similarity of the landscape in this painting to the view of Geneva seen from the village of Archamps; reproduces a photograph of this view (fig. 2), and observes that the similarity of the two scenes suggests that Bruegel could have passed through this part of Switzerland on his way to either Italy or France.
Max J. Friedländer. Die altniederländische Malerei. Vol. 14, Pieter Bruegel und Nachträge zu den früheren Bänden. Leiden, 1937, pp. 27–29, 60, no. 28, pl. XXVII, as The Corn Harvest, July, from a series of twelve months completed by the artist in 1566.
W. Deonna. "Bruegel le Vieux a-t-il passé par Genève?" Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 18 (1937), pp. 192–97, fig. 1 (detail), suggests that our picture shows Lake Geneva as seen from the village of Rolles rather than from Archamps.
Gustav Glück. Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Paris, , pp. 19–20, 29, no. 32, ill. (color).
Gotthard Jedlicka. Pieter Bruegel: Der Maler in seiner Zeit. Erlenbach-Zürich, 1938, pp. 186–87, 189, 204–10, 495 n. 207.1, p. 496 nn. 219.1, 221.1, pp. 525–26, no. 20, pl. 68, observes that artists of the seventeenth century would have known a fourteenth-century poem in which a man's life is divided into twelve periods comparable to the twelve months of the year, and that a number of books of hours exist in which the periods of a man's life correspond to the cycle of twelve months; believes that Bruegel's series was conceived in this spirit and originally included twelve paintings; identifies our panel as July.
Charles de Tolnay. "La Seconde Tour de Babel de Pierre Bruegel l'Ancien." Annuaire des Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique 1 (1938), p. 121, cites Teniers's [see Ref. 1660] description of the Gallery of Archduke Leopold William as evidence that the series originally included only six panels.
Jean Videpoche [Herbert Mortimer Alexander] with an essay by Aldous Huxley inThe Elder Peter Bruegel 1528(?)–1569. New York, 1938, pp. 45, 54–55, ill. opp. p. 29 (color), sees the man napping at the center of the picture as an image of the proletariat "savagely possessed by the kind of sleep that only the working class knows . . . ," but calls The Harvesters one of Bruegel's lesser works.
Gustav Glück Introduction by Leo Bruhns inDas Bruegel Buch. rev. ed. Vienna, 1941, pp. 20, 22–24, no. 23, ill. (color).
Introduction by Max Dvorák inDie Gemälde Peter Bruegels des Älteren. Vienna, 1941, pp. 19–20, 54, pls. 52–55 (color; overall and details), as representing the month of July.
Alphons Lhotsky. "Von den Anfängen bis zum Tode Kaiser Karls VI. 1740." Festschrift des Kunsthistorisches Museums in Wien 1891–1941: Festschrift des Kunsthistorischen Museums zur Feier des fünfzigjährigen Bestandes. part 2, Vol. 1, Vienna, 1941–45, pp. 215–17, mentions the 1594 gift of "sechs Jahreszeitenbilder Bruegels" to Archduke Ernst, listed in Hütter's account book.
Charles Sheeler. "Notes on the Cover." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 1 (January 1943), inside front cover, ill. (overall, and color detail on front cover).
Margaret Breuning. "Metropolitan Re-Installs Its Treasures in Attractive Settings." Art Digest 18 (June 1, 1944), p. 26, ill. p. 6, as "now emerging after a cleaning as a dazzling performance".
W. Vanbeselaere. Peter Bruegel en het Nederlandsche Manierisme. Tielt, Belgium, 1944, pp. 68–69, 71, 73–76, colorpl. 42 (opp. p. 54), notes that most authors believe there were originally twelve panels of the Months.
Gustave Vanzype. Bruegel le Vieux. Brussels, 1944, p. 76, observes that the five remaining paintings need not have belonged to the same series, and, although he has never seen it, describes our picture as a very advanced sketch that the artist later abandoned.
Otto Benesch. The Art of the Renaissance in Northern Europe. Cambridge, Mass., 1945, pp. 102, 104, 155 n. 27, refers to this picture as "July or August . . . the only documented work by Bruegel in the United States".
Paul Fierens. Bruegel (La Renaissance en Belgique). n.p., 1945, p. 154, pl. XV, subscribes to Tolnai's theory that there were originally six pictures [see Ref. Wehle and Salinger 1947].
[Felix] Timmermans. Brvegel. [Turin], 1945, ill. opp. p. 64 (color detail) and opp. p. 176 (overall).
Paul Fierens. Bruegel l'ancien. Paris, 1946, pp. 4, 6, believes that there were originally six pictures.
Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta Salinger. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Early Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings. New York, 1947, pp. 156–59, ill., assume that the series originally included twelve panels, one for each month; state that the MMA panel was carried off to Paris by the French in 1809.
"Notes on the Cover." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 7 (October 1948), inside front cover, ill. (color detail on cover).
Fritz Novotny. Die Monatsbilder Pieter Bruegels d. Ä. Vienna, 1948, pp. 1–41, no. 3, pls. 21–27 (overall and details), sees these paintings as revolutionary in their depiction of the universal aspects of man's nature, and in their elevation of landscape painting to an independent genre in Netherlandish art; observes that they are the first landscapes to express Nature's indifference to man and compares their objectivity and universality with the landscapes of Oriental scroll painters; considers it most likely that there were originally six panels, and, rather than attempting to match the five remaining panels with particular months, identifies them as "Vorfrühling", "Frühsommer", "Hochsommer", "Herbst", and "Tiefen Winter"; comments on the simplification of form in our picture; points out that the series was not painted from nature and calls them "Mischlandschaften," partly invented and partly inspired by landscape studies brought back from the artist's Italian journey; reviews the provenance history of the series, and lists copies of our panel and related works.
Julius S. Held. "Book Reviews: Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta M. Salinger . . ., 1947." Art Bulletin 31 (June 1949), pp. 142–43, believes that Wehle and Salinger oversimplify the problems and issues relating to Bruegel's series of the months; observes that "the rendering of the twelve months in six pictures, while unknown before Bruegel's time, does occur afterwards" and that Archduke Leopold William, while he owned Bruegel's pictures, ordered a series of six tapestries rendering the twelve months from the designs of his court painter Jan van de Hoecke, presumably inspired by Bruegel's panels; in contrast to Tolnay [see Ref. 1934], who imagined the series beginning with December and January, Held thinks the logical starting point would be January and February, making our picture a representation of July and August; hypothesizes that "originally the series was meant to be one of twelve individual pieces," and that possibly Niclaes Jongelinck's eagerness to have them to put up as security prevented the "complete transformation of all panels" from being accomplished; notes that the artist did most of the work on the series in 1564, although he apparently signed them at the time of delivery in 1565.
Paul Fierens. Peter Bruegel: sa vie, son oeuvre, son temps. Paris, , pp. 60, 63, 65, colorpl. XXIX, refers to the pictures as the series of the Months or the Seasons.
Lillian Ross. "Profiles: How do you like it now, gentlemen?" New Yorker (May 13, 1950), pp. 36, 58 [reprinted as "Portrait of Hemingway," New York, 1961, p. 58], records Ernest Hemingway's comments on this painting during a visit to the Museum, noting that he admired the geometric handling of the grain here.
Gustav Glück. Das Grosse Bruegel-Werk. Vienna, 1951, pp. 29–30, 33–34, 68–73, colorpls. 28 (overall) and 28a–c (details), reverts to the view that the series originally included six paintings, but believes that it began with The Gloomy Day (March-April), and that our picture represents July-August; doubts that the Antwerp city council would have presented Archduke Ernst with an incomplete series of paintings; reports, and finds conclusive, F. Grossmann's opinion that this picture was owned by General Andreossy, former French General-Governor in Vienna and was in his sale of March 11, 1816, as no. 6, a work of the old German school; mentions what he believes were two early copies of this composition: one listed in an inventory of Antoinette Wiael in 1627, and another (or possibly the same) in a sale of the P. Wouters collection, Brussels, April 1, 1794; notes that more recently, Professor Josef Engelhart, deceased, of Vienna, told him of a replica of approximately the same size as our original in the collection of Count Blankenstein, Batelov, Moravia.
E. van der Vossen. "De 'Maandenreeks' van Pieter Bruegel den Ouden." Oud-Holland, part 2, 66 (1951), pp. 103–16, ill., believes that Bruegel represented the twelve months in pairs, tentatively suggesting that the series begins with February-March and ends with December-January; observes that the missing picture probably depicted amorous peasant couples, sheep-shearing, and bee-keeping; discusses other recorded examples of works in which the year is depicted in two-month divisions, produced since the creation of Bruegel's series.
Art Treasures of the Metropolitan: A Selection from the European and Asiatic Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1952, p. 227, colorpl. 105.
Arthur Haberlandt. "Volksbrauch im Jahreslauf auf den 'Monatsbildern' Pieter Bruegels d. Ae." Österreichische Zeitschrift für Volkskunde, n.s., 6 (1952), pp. 43–58.
Robert L. Delevoy. Bruegel. Paris, 1953, pp. XVI–XVIII, pls. 24, 25 (overall and detail), ill. opp. pl. 24 (color detail).
Robert Genaille. Brvegel l'Ancien. Paris, 1953, pp. 36, 38–39, 62, 74 n. 61, pp. 90, 92, figs. 78–80 (overall and details, color and black and white), believes that Bruegel did not intend to represent a rigorous synthesis of two months in each of these panels, but the principal labors of the countryside according to specific seasons or times of the year . . . the characteristic moment of each season; sees ours as presenting the immobility and torpor of August; notes that the existence of several replicas of the Albertina drawing of Spring [see Notes] has suggested to some that there was a sixth panel representing "Jardinage," but believes that the difference in composition and spirit in the drawing leaves open the question of whether there were in fact six pictures.
Robert Genaille. Flemish Painting from Van Eyck to Brueghel. London, 1954, pp. 122, 144, ill. p. 124 (color detail).
Theodore Rousseau Jr. "A Guide to the Picture Galleries." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12, part 2 (January 1954), pp. 3, 21, ill.
Ludwig Baldass. "Les Tableaux champêtres des Bassano et la peinture réaliste des pays-bas au XVIe siècle." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 45 (March 1955), pp. 158–59, notes that in sixteenth-century Flanders the year began with March 1, and that this is supported by the inscription "Mert, April, Mey [sic]" on Bruegel's drawing of Spring now in Vienna; believes, nevertheless, that "The Gloomy Day" could be February and March, but never March and April, thus underlining the difference in approach in the drawn and painted series: the former is simpler and permits the inclusion of a continuous series of allegorical scenes; the latter is synthetic, and the artist has created in each panel "a perfect unity of atmosphere".
F. Grossmann. Bruegel: The Paintings. London, , pp. 19, 30–31, 36, 197–99, pls. 99–103 (overall and details), believes the Bruegel made twelve paintings of the Months, as it seems unlikely to him that Jongelinck owned eight paintings by Bruegel whose titles were omitted from the 1566 document; adds that based on his study of Flemish and German iconography of the Months, "it is not necessary [as Ref. Tolnay 1934 believes] to assign the motifs shown in one picture to two months"; suggests that the Corn Harvest represents August, and identifies Hunters in the Snow, or January, as the first of the series; believes the paintings "formed a kind of frieze, with the continuous landscape background connecting each picture with its neighbour, as can still be seen in the remaining fragments"; notes that all the Bruegels that were taken by Napoleon to Paris in 1809 were returned to Vienna, except for this picture, which "the French commander in Vienna, Count Andréossy, who also owned a collection of Bruegel drawings, had kept for himself".
Janis Krastins. "Flemish Harvest Scenes of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries, with Special Reference to Pieter Bruegel's 'Harvesters'." Master's thesis, Columbia University, 1955, pp. 17–53.
Marcel de Maeyer. Albrecht en Isabella en de Schilderkunst. Brussels, 1955, pp. 53, 259, 455–56, publishes Archduke Ernst's posthumous inventory [see Ref. 1595], and an inventory of paintings belonging to the court at Brussels [see Notes].
Michael Auner. "Pieter Bruegel: Umrisse eines Lebensbildes." Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien, n.s., 17? (1956), pp. 58, 70, 88, 91–92, 97, believes Bruegel originally produced twelve panels of the months; observes that six were given to Archduke Ernst in 1594, and suggests that the other six were destroyed during the plundering of Antwerp by Spanish troops on November 4, 1576.
Jan Bialostocki. Bruegel—Pejzazysta. Poznan, Poland, 1956, pp. 23–24, 27–30, 34, 36, 39, 46, 48, observes that in this series "Bruegel seems to have overcome his scepticism: human life is in harmony with the life of nature, every season endows humanity with different gifts".
Roberto Salvini. La pittura fiamminga. Milan, 1958, pp. 162–64, fig. 132 (color), believes it belonged to a group of six pictures, observing that it is unlikely that seven pictures of the same series could have been lost without record.
Robert L. Delevoy. Bruegel. [Geneva], 1959, pp. 101–2, 105–7, 113–15, ill. in color pp. 102, 108–9 (overall and details), believes that the months in the series are illustrated in pairs, beginning with March and April, observing that "in the sixteenth century the year began on the first of March"; identifies our panel as July and August; states that in 1594 the city of Antwerp presented the new governor of the Netherlands, Archduke Ernst of Austria, with the Bruegels it had acquired from Jongelinck in 1565.
F. Grossmann. "New Light on Bruegel, I: Documents and Additions to the Oeuvre; Problems of Form." Burlington Magazine 101 (September/October 1959), p. 342, observes that the six pictures of the Months mentioned in inventories of the Governor's palace in Brussels [see Notes, and Ref. Maeyer 1955] may have been originals by Bruegel or copies, and seem to have perished in the great fire in Brussels in 1731; believes that Bruegel probably painted a series of six pictures representing the twelve months, but considers it doubtful that the five paintings preserved, "not least for iconographical reasons," can be identified with the five of the series owned by Archduke Ernst and mentioned in his inventory; comments on the lack of correspondence between the months presumably represented and the motifs that appear in these paintings and observes in a footnote that "In all calendar illustrations the series begin with January, even where the official year began at Easter".
Erik Larsen. Les primitifs flamands au Musée Metropolitain de New York. Utrecht, 1960, pp. 100, 133, fig. XXXVIII, comments that it is regrettable that in cleaning the picture has lost some of its glazes, in the foreground, the tree, and in the wheat field.
R. H. Wilenski. Flemish Painters, 1430–1830. New York, 1960, vol. 1, pp. 512–13; vol. 2, pl. 392, as representing July or August, or Summer.
Valentin Denis, ed. All the Paintings of Pieter Bruegel. New York, 1961, pp. 20–21, 34, pls. 78–83 (overall and details).
Carl van de Velde. "The Labours of Hercules, a Lost Series of Paintings by Frans Floris." Burlington Magazine 107 (March 1965), pp. 114, 123, reproduces the archival text of 1566 referring to paintings of this series owned by Jongelinck [see Ref. Denucé 1932].
Gerhard W. Menzel. Pieter Bruegel der Ältere. Leipzig, 1966, pp. 31, 43, 70–76, 96, colorpl. 56, assumes that Bruegel began the series with the missing picture, March/April, and believes our picture represents July/August; suggests that during Bruegel's 1553 visit in Florence with his countryman, Jan Rost, he may have been inspired by Rost's work on a series of Gobelin tapestries of the months which were to be arranged as a frieze; believes that the paintings were intended to be seen side by side as a frieze and may have been designed as the decoration for a particular room in Jongelinck's home; notes that they are related in horizon line, form, and color, and that this is particularly apparent with our Harvesters and Haymaking; observes that as their most important compositional element, the first three pictures of the series (including, presumably, the missing picture) have strong diagonals running from the lower left to the upper right, and the last three have diagonals running from the lower right to the upper left.
Piero Bianconi inL'opera completa di Bruegel. Milan, 1967, p. 103, no. 52D, ill. p. 103 and colorpls. XXXVI–XXXVII (overall and details), [English ed. The Complete Paintings of Bruegel. New York, 1967, p. 101, no. 34C, ill. p. 103 and colorpls. XXXVI–XXXVII (overall and details)].
Charles D. Cuttler. Northern Painting from Pucelle to Bruegel. New York, 1968, pp. 478–80, fig. 671, as "Wheat Harvest," representing August and September.
Timothy Foote. The World of Bruegel c. 1525–1569. New York, 1968, pp. 165–66, 178–79, ill. in color (overall and detail).
Gert von der Osten and Horst Vey. Painting and Sculpture in Germany and the Netherlands 1500 to 1600. Baltimore, 1969, p. 303.
Georges Marlier. Pierre Brueghel le Jeune. Brussels, 1969, pp. 226, 229–232, compares this painting with Bruegel the Elder's drawing of Summer in Hamburg and with paintings of the same subject by Pieter Bruegel the Younger and Grimmer, observing that although their paintings rely mostly on the Hamburg drawing, they also borrow elements from our painting; concludes that the Bruegel family must have owned a replica or drawing of The Harvesters, since the composition was never engraved; notes that the Metropolitan Museum owns a small copy of The Harvesters on leather [sic] ascribed to David Vinckboons [see Notes].
Sarane Alexandrian. Pieter Brueghel the Elder. New York, 1969, p. 36, ill. on back cover (color).
Bob Claessens and Jeanne Rousseau. Our Bruegel. Antwerp, 1969, pp. 31–32, opp. p. 112 (in unpaginated chronology under 1565), colorpls. 32–32a (overall and detail), note that in the sixteenth century, the year was considered to begin on March 1st, so the first painting of the series would be the missing March-April, which they assume would represent Gardening.
Heinrich Gerhard Franz. Niederländische Landschaftsmalerei im Zeitalter des Manierismus. Graz, Austria, 1969, vol. 1, pp. 173–74, 176, 181; vol. 2, pl. 229.
Marguerite Kay. Bruegel. London, 1969, pp. 8, 15–16, 21, 29–30, colorpls. 13–14, 43 (overall and details).
Françoise Popelier inBruegel: The Painter and His World. Exh. cat., Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique. Brussels, 1969, pp. 70–71, 94–95, no. 28, ill. pp. 70 and 90 (color detail).
Wolfgang Stechow. Pieter Bruegel the Elder. New York, , pp. 19, 34–36, 39, 96, 98, 104, 106, 155, colorpls. 27 and 28 (overall and detail) and ill. p. 106 (detail), calls the series of the Months "most probably twelve paintings," and considers it "highly improbable that the titles of eight pictures—rather than only two—would have been omitted" from this record; believes our picture almost certainly represents August; comments that the "uncouthness of eating, drinking, and sleeping in The Harvesters is still faintly reminiscent of the concept of labor as the wages of sin"; observes that in the Hamburg drawing, the composition is dominated by man rather than by the landscape; reproduces a drawing, Landscape with Church (Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Dahlem), noting that it "opens the way" to the background of The Harvesters; notes that there are no exact copies of the extant paintings of the series, except for The Harvesters, but gives no location for this copy.
Claus Virch. "The Story of Bruegel's Harvesters: A Curator's Coup." Connoisseur 172 (November 1969), pp. 223–27, colorpl. 4 (overall) and pls. 5–9 (overall at time of purchase by MMA; detail of signature; in eighteenth-century frame; two details under infrared light), notes that when Dr. Ernst Buschbeck, then director of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, came to the Museum in 1949, he remarked that the picture was still in its old Viennese gallery frame, a type used in European princely collections during the eighteenth century.
Irving L. Zupnick. Bruegel. New York, 1970, pp. 26, 32, 43, ill., observes that the picture seems to represent August and September, but may instead represent July and August.
Calvin Tomkins. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, pp. 232–33, 321 [rev., enl. ed., 1989].
K. Renger. "Bettler und Bauern bei Pieter Bruegel d. Ä." Kunstgeschichtliche Gesellschaft zu Berlin, Sitzungsberichte, n.s., 20 (1971/72), p. 10, comments on the apparent freedom of Bruegel in his use of traditional Netherlandish calendar subjects [see Ref. Demus 1981, pp. 37, 88].
Leo van Puyvelde. La Renaissance flamande de Bosch à Breughel. [Brussels], 1971, pp. 74–75, notes that since the publication by De Maeyer of a seventeenth-century inventory of paintings at the Brussels court [see Ref. Maeyer 1955 and Notes], we can now be certain that each of the paintings of the series represented two months of the year.
M[ax]. Seidel and R. H. Marijnissen. Bruegel. New York, 1971, pp. 17, 47–48, 58 nn. 47–48, pp. 244–45, 342, ill. pp. 244–46 (overall and details) and p. 247 (color detail), date the Antwerp document concerning Niclaes Jongelinck February 21, 1566, explaining that the calendar in use at this time was the Easter calendar, and that by the Gregorian calendar the year would be 1566; believe that the series started with the missing picture of March and April and that this work represents the months of July and August.
Herbert L. Stein-Schneider. "Brueghel Revised." Arts Magazine 46 (April 1972), pp. 36–37, 39–40, ill. (color), sees in our picture symbolism of the Antwerp sect of Familists, to which he believes Bruegel belonged; identifies the urn in the left foreground as a "golden vase hidden in the wheat," like the secret treasure in the biblical parable of Matthew 13:44; notes that while food, drink, and sleep are "the only discernible preoccupations" of the farmers here, a few of the men working in the field (those who "search after righteousness") are moving toward the vase.
F. Grossmann. Pieter Bruegel: Complete Edition of the Paintings. 3rd ed., rev. London, 1973, pp. 27, 45, 197–98, colorpl. 101 (overall), and pls. 102, 105–6 (details), calls our picture The Corn Harvest (August).
Jacques Lavalleye inAn Illustrated Inventory of Famous Dismembered Works of Art: European Painting. Paris, 1974, p. 54, fig. 5.
W. Mössner. "Studien zur Farbe bei Pieter Brueghel d. Ä." PhD diss., University of Würzburg, 1975, p. 102 n. 86, observes that the five pictures (with a "reconstruction" of the sixth) each have a different background color and these are systematically orchestrated, one following the other: early spring: brown-black, (spring: blue), haymaking: green, harvest: yellow, autumn: gold-ochre, winter: white, thus spanning a range from black to white; also comments on the variations in atmosphere-cool and warm, damp and dry, splendid blooming and musty decomposition-making the panels, seen one beside the other, a complete experience of the senses [see Ref. Demus 1981, pp. 89–90].
V. Denis. La peinture flamande 15e–16e–17e siècles. Brussels, 1976, p. 179.
Max J. Friedländer et al. Early Netherlandish Painting. Vol. 14, New York, 1976, pp. 26, 44, no. 28, pl. 36, views the series as originally including twelve paintings and calls our picture The Corn Harvest.
Claude Mettra. Bruegel. Paris, 1976, pp. 19–20, and unpaginated (two pages of text near ill.), ill. (color).
Walter S. Gibson. Bruegel. New York, 1977, pp. 147–48, 154, 156–58, pls. 110 and 128 (overall and color detail), observes that a series of six paintings of the twelve months is not without precedent, but believes that Bruegel probably painted the more usual number of twelve pictures; cites as evidence for this view the artist's separate depiction of hay-making and wheat-harvesting, and identifies our picture as August; suggests that "Bruegel's radical transformation of the old calendar scenes was inspired by Virgil . . . , for the 'Georgics' was widely read and admired in the sixteenth century".
Andreas Prater, ed. Pieter Bruegel der Ältere um 1525–1569. Munich, 1977, pp. 7, 9, 11, 13, ill. (color), quotes other authors on Bruegel's series of the months.
Richard E. G. Tyler. "Rubens' 'Château de Steen'." Connoisseur 195 (August 1977), pp. 275–76 n. 10, comments on the six paintings of the twelve months of the year ascribed to Bruegel in seventeenth-century inventories of the Royal Palace in Brussels [see Notes] and observes that the originals, or copies, remained in Flanders during the early seventeenth century, as Rubens's Château de Steen was inspired by the general composition of Hunters in the Snow.
Justus Müller Hofstede. "Zur Interpretation von Pieter Bruegels Landschaft: Ästhetischer Landschaftsbegriff und Stoische Weltbetrachtung." Pieter Bruegel und seine Welt. Ed. Otto von Simson and Matthias Winner. Berlin, 1979, p. 83 n. 22, p. 85 n. 26, p. 106 n. 120, pp. 116, 125–27, 138 n. 260, pp. 140–41.
Jan Theuwissen. "Volkskundliche Aspekte im Werke Pieter Bruegels." Pieter Bruegel und seine Welt. Ed. Otto von Simson and Matthias Winner. Berlin, 1979, pp. 178, 184.
Gabriel P. Weisberg. The Realist Tradition: French Painting and Drawing 1830–1900. Exh. cat., Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, 1980, p. 82, compares it with Millet's The Harvesters Resting (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston).
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 273, 276, 305, figs. 488, 495 (overall and color detail).
M. J. C. Visser. Pieter Bruegel: Een nieuwe interpretatie. Zutphen, The Netherlands, [198-], pp. 80–82, ill. p. 83 (color).
Tiziana Frati. Bruegel: The Complete Paintings. London, 1980, pp. 8, 56, ill. p. 53 (color detail) and p. 60 (overall).
Fritz Grossmann inBruegel: Une Dynastie de peintres. Exh. cat., Palais des Beaux-Arts. Brussels, 1980, pp. 33, 41, 44.
Piero Bianconi inTout l'oeuvre peint de Bruegel l'Ancien. rev. ed. Paris, 1981, pp. 102–3, no. 52D, ill. p. 103 and pls. XXXVI–XXXVII (overall and color details).
Klaus Demus inFlämische Malerei von Jan van Eyck bis Pieter Bruegel d. Ä. Vienna, 1981, pp. 86–94, thoroughly discusses the significance of the series, its provenance and bibliography; agrees with Genaille [see Ref. 1953] that the panels are neither rigorously the months nor the seasons; considers pictures mentioned in later inventories of the Brussels palace (1659, 1665/70-1698, 1732; see Ref. Maeyer 1955, pp. 441, 455, 470) "a false trail".
Robert Genaille. "Le 'Dénombrement de Bethléem' et la permanence des goûts anversois chez Brueghel l'Ancien." Jaarboek van het Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen (1981), p. 64.
Walter S. Gibson. "In Detail: Pieter Bruegel's 'The Harvesters'." Portfolio (May/June 1981), pp. 40–45, ill. in color (overall and detail), believes our panel represents the month of August as it lacks the vintage or sowing scenes typical of September, and as haymaking, the activity most frequently associated with July, is the subject of the Prague panel; discusses sources in earlier calendar illustrations.
Keith Roberts. Bruegel. rev. ed. Oxford, 1982, p. 29, no. 33, fig. 32 (detail), and colorpl. 33.
James Snyder. Northern Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture, the Graphic Arts from 1350 to 1575. New York, 1985, pp. 506–7, fig. 576, as Wheat Harvest, a representation of August.
Rüdiger an der Heiden. Pieter Bruegel der Ältere: Das Schlaraffenland und der Studienkopf einer Bäuerin in der Alten Pinakothek. Munich, 1985, pp. 25–26, fig. 22 (detail).
Robert Lawson-Peebles. "William Carlos Williams' 'Pictures from Brueghel'." Word & Image 2 (January-March 1986), pp. 18–21, p. 22 n. 1, discusses Williams's poem "The Corn Harvest," which was inspired by our painting, focusing on the man napping in the foreground; notes that the series of poems "Pictures from Brueghel" is under-rated and cites other commentary on the series, both favorable and unfavorable, in his footnotes.
Hans J. van Miegroet. "The Twelve Months Reconsidered: How a Drawing by Pieter Stevens Clarifies a Bruegel Enigma." Simiolus 16, no. 1 (1986), pp. 29–35, ill., publishes a drawing by Pieter Stevens which is freely based on Bruegel's "Gloomy Day" and bears the inscriptions "februarius" and "mert;" concludes that Bruegel's series did indeed, as Tolnay suggested in 1934, begin with December/January, and that our painting, which he calls The Wheat Harvest, represents August/early September.
H. Stein-Schneider. "Pieter Bruegel: peintre hérétique, illustrateur du message Familiste." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 107 (February 1986), p. 73.
Introduction by James Snyder inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Renaissance in the North. New York, 1987, pp. 16–17, 71–75, ill. (color, overall and detail).
Klaus Demus in "Pierre Bruegel l'Ancien." La Peinture flamande au Kunsthistorisches Museum de Vienne. Antwerp, 1987, pp. 82, 84, 86, firmly states that Bruegel did not paint a series of Months, but an extended Seasons of the Year, beginning with that season which precedes spring (The Dark Day), and followed by spring (missing), early summer (Haymaking), summer (The Harvesters), autumn (The Return of the Herd), and winter (Hunters in the Snow); stresses that these Seasons are not "Flemish Georgics," but are rather an expression of the way in which each season creates its own reality, or different kinds of worlds throughout the year.
Simon Schama et al. inMasters of 17th-Century Dutch Landscape Painting. Exh. cat., Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Boston, 1987, pp. 66, 446, fig. 3.
Karl Schütz in "Histoire de la collection flamande de la Galerie du Kunsthistorisches Museum de Vienne." La Peinture flamande au Kunsthistorisches Museum de Vienne. Antwerp, 1987, p. 9, discusses the provenance of the series.
Robert Harbison. "Brueghel the Elder: Egypt on the Rhine." Art News 87, no. 10 (December 1988), ill. p. 92 (color detail).
Jaromír Síp and Lubomír Slavícek. Die National Galerie in Prag. Vol. 1, Hanau, 1988, p. 122, view the Prague panel as representing July.
Klaus Ertz. Pieter Brueghel der Jüngere (1564–1637/38): Die Gemälde mit kritischem Oeuvrekatalog. Lingen, Germany, 1988/2000, vol. 2, pp. 552, 562, 566, 594, 980 n. 700, fig. 457.
et al. Bruegel: Tout l'oeuvre peint et dessiné. Antwerp, 1988, pp. 35, 252–53, 391–92, ill. pp. 257–59, 390, 401 (overall and details), identifies it as "The Harvest: August–September".
Walter S. Gibson. Bruegel. New York, 1989, pp. 94–95, 175, colorpl. 92, as representing July-August.
Walter S. Gibson. "Mirror of the Earth": The World Landscape in Sixteenth-century Flemish Painting. Princeton, 1989, pp. 70–75, 125 nn. 97–99, fig. 5.30, in the text remarks that our panel most likely represents August, but in footnotes comments that it is also possible that it represents late July, when grain was often harvested in order to prepare the ground for the turnip crop.
Jarmila Vacková. Nizozemské malírství 15. a 16. století: ceskoslovenské sbírky. Prague, 1989, pp. 185–87.
Iain Buchanan. "The Collection of Niclaes Jongelinck: I. 'Bacchus and the Planets' by Jacques Jongelinck." Burlington Magazine 132 (February 1990), pp. 102, 106, 112, discusses Jacques Jongelinck's sculpture series of the planets, which were also commissioned by Niclaes Jongelinck, and suggests a thematic connection between these statues and other series commissioned by Jongelinck: the Months by Pieter Bruegel, and the Seven Liberal Arts and the Labors of Hercules both by Frans Floris; observes that "these astrological themes were often combined in decorative schemes . . . , where planets appear as ruling deities who govern the months and the labours of men".
Iain Buchanan. "The Collection of Niclaes Jongelinck: II. The 'Months' by Pieter Bruegel the Elder." Burlington Magazine 132 (August 1990), pp. 541–50, figs. 18, 27 (overall and detail), considers it more likely that one painting from a complete series has been lost, than that seven have been lost; carefully analyzes the subjects of the five extant paintings, producing a full-page table of "Labors of the Months in Calendar Cycles from the Bening Workshop" for comparison, and observes that Bruegel's choices are "sometimes unorthodox as . . . [he] concentrates on peasant activities, often selecting the less common labors"; follows Tolnay's [see Ref. 1934] identification of the months and their sequence, and notes that occupations suitable for the missing April/May "would include leading sheep to pasture, milking cows in the fields, and ploughing and sowing-a significant omission from Bruegel's series"; discusses the history of calendar illustrations and notes that "the main distinction between cycles of the Months and of the Seasons was one of order; the Months always begin with January, the Seasons at Spring in March"; suggests that Bruegel's series of the months would have had their own room in Jongelinck's house, most appropriately the dining room, and remarks that they "may well be a northern European example of the renaissance revival of landscapes for villa decoration, as recommended by Alberti and Serlio, following Vitruvius"; notes that Jongelinck's estate included the pledged Floris paintings, which "strongly suggests that the debt to the city was paid, and the collection retained by the merchant"; adds that a previously unpublished document [see Ref. 1594] reveals that the Months came to the city council from the art dealer Hane van Wijke.
Lubomír Slavícek inBruegel and Netherlandish Landscape Painting from the National Gallery Prague. Exh. cat., National Museum of Western Art. Tokyo, 1990, pp. 20, 133–35, ill.
Sylvia Ferino-Pagden et al. inDie Gemäldegalerie des Kunsthistorischen Museums in Wien: Verzeichnis der Gemälde. Vienna, 1991, p. 36, call it a series of "Jahreszeiten," beginning with early spring and ending with winter, and believe the year is divided into six parts following the labors of peasants, rather than the literal joining of two months in a single painting.
Walter S. Gibson. "I. Bruegel and the Peasants: A Problem of Interpretation." Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Two Studies. Lawrence, Kans., 1991, p. 35.
Hans J. van Miegroet, Selected by Guy C. Bauman, and Walter A. Liedtke inFlemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Flemish Paintings in the Public Collections of North America. Antwerp, 1992, pp. 24, 135–37, ill. (color, overall and details) and frontispiece (color), believes that our painting represents the period from August to early September.
Jane ten Brink Goldsmith. "Pieter Bruegel the Elder and the Matter of Italy." Sixteenth Century Journal 23, no. 2 (Summer 1992), pp. 222, 227–31, ill., sees Bruegel, particularly in the series of landscapes he produced for Jongelinck, as consciously raising Netherlandish art to the standard of contemporary Italian art; views his remarkable truth to nature as a rebellion against Italian mannerism and the Netherlandish art influenced by it.
James A. W. Heffernan. Museum of Words: The Poetics of Ekphrasis from Homer to Ashbery. Chicago, 1993, p. 156, ill.
Richard Mühlberger. What Makes a Bruegel a Bruegel? New York, 1993, pp. 20, 28–31, ill. in color (overall and details).
Peter C. Sutton. The Age of Rubens. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 1993, p. 69.
Christopher Braider. Refiguring the Real: Picture and Modernity in Word and Image 1400–1700. Princeton, 1993, pp. 72–73, 77, ill.
Margaret A. Sullivan. Bruegel's Peasants: Art and Audience in the Northern Renaissance. Cambridge, 1994, pp. 43–44, suggests that "the sleeper's nap in The Harvesters is due to the amount of drink he has imbibed rather than the result of hard work and honest effort;" notes that the accusation of laziness was frequently leveled at peasants, following Proverbs 10:5, "A son who gathers in summer is prudent, but a son who sleeps in harvest brings shame".
Alexander Wied. Bruegel. Milan, 1994, pp. 25–27, 94, 103, 160, ill. p. 103 (color) and p. 160, no. 30, clearly summarizes issues relating to the series, incorporating recent scholarship; believes the arguments for a group of six pictures are decisive and identifies the months in our painting as August with July or September.
Pierre Francastel. Bruegel. Paris, 1995, pp. 147–48, 153, 156, 196, 200, 211.
Luc Smolderen. "Tableaux de Jérôme Bosch, de Pierre Bruegel l'Ancien et de Frans Floris dispersés en vente publique à la Monnaie d'Anvers en 1572." Revue belge d'archéologie et d'histoire de l'art 64 (1995), p. 37, asserts that the proceedings of Nicolas Jonghelinck's 1565 sale, including the "Douze Mois," is the earliest mention of Bruegel's work [in a sale?].
Alexander Wied inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 4, New York, 1996, pp. 900, 902.
Larry Silver. "Pieter Bruegel in the Capital of Capitalism." Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 47 (1996), pp. 132–33, 144, observes that Bruegel's contemporaries would have associated the series of the Months with "seigneural landholding" and the princely tradition of calendar illuminations; believes the large tracts of land with their summer harvests in our picture and 'Haymaking' "point to fecund nature tended by peasant labor for prosperous landlords".
Luc Smolderen. Jacques Jonghelinck: Sculpteur, médailleur et graveur de sceaux (1530–1606). Louvain-la-Neuve, 1996, pp. 10, 30.
J. Müller inAllgemeines Künstlerlexikon: die bildenden Künstler aller Zeiten und Völker. Vol. 14, Munich, 1996, p. 477.
Pieter Bruegel the Elder at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Ed. Wilfried Seipel. Milan, 1997, pp. 15, 84–89.
Mary Sprinson de Jesús et al. inFrom Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, pp. vii–viii, 33, 66–68, 74–75, 381–91, no. 102, ill. (color, overall and detail).
John Oliver Hand. "New York. From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Burlington Magazine 140 (December 1998), pp. 856–57.
Walter S. Gibson. "Review of Jan de Jong, Mark Meadow, Herman Roodenburg and Frits Scholten (eds.), Pieter Bruegel, 1997 (Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jarboek 47 )." Simiolus 26, no. 1/2 (1998), p. 121.
Christian Vöhringer. Pieter Bruegel 1525/30–1569. Cologne, 1999, pp. 96, 98–100, ill. (color, overall and detail).
Ethan Matt Kavaler. Pieter Bruegel: Parables of Order and Enterprise. Cambridge, 1999, p. 51.
Kim Woods in "The Status of the Artist in Northern Europe in the Sixteenth Century." The Changing Status of the Artist. Ed. Emma Barker et al. New Haven, 1999, pp. 114–16, ill. (color).
Walter A. Liedtke inThe Oxford History of Western Art. Ed. Martin Kemp. New York, 2000, p. 242, ill. (color).
Walter S. Gibson. Pleasant Places: The Rustic Landscape from Bruegel to Ruisdael. Berkeley, 2000, pp. 121, 130, notes that although the series owes much to older calendar scenes, "Bruegel broke decisively with tradition when he focused exclusively on the world of the peasant"; also observes that the traditions of the months and seasons, as they developed through the sixteenth century, and above all in this series, "showed the peasant as he might have been viewed by a great landowner, as part of his wealth, agents like the sun and rain working to ensure the fruitfulness of his lands and his own prosperity".
Claudia Goldstein. "Artifacts of Domestic Life: Bruegel's Paintings in the Flemish Home." Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 51 (2000), pp. 174, 184, fig. 4, supports Buchanan's suggestion [see Ref. 1990] that Bruegel's paintings of the Months were made for Jongelinck's dining room; notes that all the activities represented in the series "will put food on the table," and that visitors to Jongelinck's suburban retreat would be reminded by the distant landscapes in these paintings that "they have left the confines of the city for the expansive countryside".
Nadine M. Orenstein et al. inPieter Bruegel the Elder: Drawings and Prints. Ed. Nadine M. Orenstein. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2001, pp. 3, 8–9, 11 n. 24, p. 38 n. 92, p. 65, n. 13, p. 238, fig. 3 (color).
Reindert L. Falkenburg. "Pieter Bruegel's 'Series of the Seasons': On the Perception of Divine Order." Liber Amicorum Raphaël de Smedt [2, Artium Historia]. Ed. Joost Vander Auwera. Vol. 2, Louvain, 2001, pp. 253–54, 272–76, ill. p. 257, suggests that the barren branches in the pear tree can be viewed as a gloss on the resting peasants below, or "peasants who sleep and eat but don't work"; compares this pear tree to the tree of knowledge and believes that the numb expression on the peasant's faces "betrays that they are unaware of the nature of the tree, and of its fruit—and of their own fallen state": like Adam and Eve, they do not know what they eat; finds similar vignettes throughout Bruegel's series that suggest to him "man's spiritual blindness to the manifestation of the Divine in this world" and concludes that the "unifying principle of the series as a whole can be called the veiled manifestation of the history of salvation".
Konrad Renger with Claudia Denk. Flämische Malerei des Barock in der Alten Pinakothek. Munich, 2002, p. 105, sees the influence of this work in a painting of harvesters by Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Inge Herold. Pieter Bruegel der Ältere: Die Jahreszeiten. Munich, 2002, pp. 44–57, 60–62, 89–95, 100, 103–10, 114 nn. 71, 73, ill. in color (overall and details), observes that thematically the "Windy Day" (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) and presumably also the missing picture with spring represent awakenings, the two summer pictures, including ours, show harvests, and the two paintings with fall and winter represent homecomings or the return home, in a sense creating three divisions in the year, comparable to the three ages of man.
Boudewijn Bakker Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. Landschap en Wereldbeeld: Van Van Eyck tot Rembrandt. Bossum, The Netherlands, 2004, pp. 201, 206–7, 418 n.517.
Burton L. Dunbar. The Collections of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: German and Netherlandish Paintings, 1450–1600. Kansas City, Mo., 2005, p. 312, fig. 23g.
Astrid Reuter. "Frühling, Sommer, Herbst und Winter: Landschaft und Figur im Werk von David Teniers d. J." David Teniers der Jüngere, 1610–1690: Alltag und Vergnügen in Flandern. Exh. cat., Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe. Heidelberg, 2005, p. 62 n. 77.
Walter S. Gibson. Pieter Bruegel and the Art of Laughter. Berkeley, 2006, pp. 7, 62, 74, 107, 208 n. 5, figs. 38–39 (overall and detail), calls it "Wheat Harvest" and erroneously dates it 1568 in the caption; finds it plausible that "Bruegel's 'Labors of the Months' . . . were intended for the dining room of Jonghelinck's suburban villa".
Robert L. Bonn. Painting Life: The Art of Pieter Bruegel, the Elder. New York, 2006, pp. 20–23, 93, colorpl. 7.
Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), pp. 21–22.
Catherine Reynolds inPatinir: Essays and Critical Catalogue. Ed. Alejandro Vergara. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2007, p. 111.
"Monatsbilder." Wikipedia. 2008, ill. (color) [http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monatsbilder].
Larry Silver. Pieter Bruegel. New York, 2011, pp. 327, 330–31, 335–36, 339, 366, 410, colorpls. 261 (detail), 278.
Bertram Kaschek. Weltzeit und Endzeit: Die "Monatsbilder" Pieter Bruegels d. Ä. PhD diss., Technischen Universität Dresden. 2012, pp. 9–349.
Old Master & British Paintings. Christie's, London. July 4, 2012, p. 30, under no. 125.
Old Master & British Paintings. Christie's, London. July 3, 2012, pp. 178, 180, fig. 1 (color), under no. 41.
Old Master & British Paintings: Evening Sale. Christie's, London. December 3, 2013, p. 42, under no. 10.
Important Old Master Paintings. Sotheby's, New York. January 30, 2014, p. 70, fig. 1 (color), under no. 22.
Andrea Bayer. "Collecting North Italian Paintings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art." A Market for Merchant Princes: Collecting Italian Renaissance Paintings in America. Ed. Inge Reist. University Park, Pa., 2015, p. 84.
Old Master & British Paintings: Evening Sale. Christie's, London. July 7, 2016, p. 28, under no. 6.
Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, pp. 10, 278, 292, no. 192, ill. pp. 192–93, 278 (color, overall and detail).
Bruegel produced a series of paintings of the months for the wealthy Antwerp merchant and collector Niclaes Jongelinck in 1565, or between March and the end of January of that year (before 1575 the Netherlands followed the Easter calendar which began on March 1). Of these pictures five are extant: the MMA "Harvesters" (sometimes called "The Corn Harvest"); "The Gloomy Day," "Hunters in the Snow," and "The Return of the Herd" (all Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna); and "Haymaking" or "The Hay Harvest" (Lobkowicz Collections, Prague). The series, which may have been part of a complex decorative scheme for Jongelinck's home (Menzel 1966, Mössner 1975, and Buchanan 1990), was pledged by the collector in February of 1565 (or 1566 new calendar) as collateral for a debt of Daniel de Bruyne, and is mentioned in this context in a document in the Antwerp city archives. Interpretation of this document has been controversial as it is ambiguous with regard to the number of pictures in the series; the pictures are mentioned as "de Tweelff maenden." Although some scholars believe that Jongelink owned twelve panels of the Months, most recent scholars believe that not more than six panels (each representing two months) could ever have existed. In 1594 six paintings of the twelve months were presented by officials of the City of Antwerp to Archduke Ernst, and by 1659 only five are mentioned in inventories of the Viennese Imperial collections. No other paintings have turned up that might have been part of the series, or that could be copies after such pictures. If the series did, as seems likely, include only six works representing the months or seasons, it appears to be among the earliest calendar series to divide the year into six rather than twelve parts. However, Novotny (1948) mentions a contemporary series of Months by Marten van Cleve in which the months are paired up, and Blasius Hütter, secretary to Archduke Ernst, records the purchase in February 1594 of six pictures representing the seasons from a Namur painter named Jean Sayve (Coremans 1847).
Beyond the question of the number of panels in the original series is the issue of which months are represented in each panel, and how literally the period of time covered should be understood. Hulin de Loo (1907) observes that it is not clear whether the series represents the seasons, or an incomplete series of the months. Tolnai (Tolnay, 1934) was one of the first scholars to suggest that the original series was a calendar cycle consisting of six pictures, each including the characteristic occupations of two successive months. In his view the year began (atypically) with December/January; the MMA panel thus represented August/September. Glück (1932) believed the five extant works belonged to an incomplete series of twelve pictures of the months, then revised his position in 1936, agreeing with Tolnay that there were only six in the series. He believed, however, that the starting point was March/April following the calendar of the Spanish Netherlands; the MMA picture would thus be July/August.
Delevoy (1959), Claessens and Rousseau (1969), and Ferino-Pagden et al. (1991) follow this view. Grossman (1955) reverts to the view that there were twelve panels altogether and observes that "In all calendar illustrations the series begin with January, even where the official year began at Easter." Held (1949) observes that Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, while he owned Bruegel's pictures, ordered a series of six tapestries rendering the twelve months from the designs of his court painter; Held, however, views the logical starting point as the months of January/February.
Van Miegroet (1986) published a drawing by Pieter Stevens (John and Alice Steiner collection, New York) comparable to "The Gloomy Day" and bearing the inscriptions "februarius" and "mert," lending support to Tolnay's position; Buchanan (1990) follows Van Miegroet and Tolnay. Novotny (1948), Genaille (1953), and Demus (1981) stress that this is not a clear-cut series of months but an extended seasons of the year, or as Genaille has suggested, "the characteristic moments of each season."
Iain Buchanan in 1990 discusses various "series" commissions for Jongelink's house that could well have been intended as an overall program: Bruegel's Months, the Seven Liberal Arts and the Labors of Hercules by Frans Floris, and Jacques Jonghelinck's sculpture series of the Seven Planets.
It is generally agreed that the missing picture represented the months of March/April. It may have resembled, at least in subject, Bruegel's drawing of "Spring" (Albertina, Vienna), which is inscribed by the artist "De Lenten Meert April Meij." Bruegel's second drawing for the same series, "Summer" (Kunsthalle, Hamburg), is a harvest scene with some elements in common with our picture; the composition, however, is quite different. The Autumn and Winter of this series were completed by Hans Bol, and the four were made into an engraved series of the Four Seasons, published by Hieronymus Cock in 1570.
Grossman (1959), Demus (1981), and Buchanan (August 1990) all agree that the paintings of the seasons mentioned in inventories of the Brussels palace (January 12, 1659, nos. 101–104; between 1665/1670 and 1698, but probably before 1692, nos. 15–20; and April 1, 1732, nos. 7–10) must be either copies destroyed in the Brussels palace fire of 1731 or unrelated works not to be confused with Bruegel's pictures. Buchanan states that the 1659 Brussels inventory was made after Archduke Leopold Wilhelm's return to Vienna.
A late-sixteenth-century drawing after "The Harvesters" ascribed to P. Balten, is in the Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (no. 13220, Der Monat Juli; see Bock and Rosenberg 1930). A small copy on copper by an anonymous Flemish painter was owned by the MMA until 1978 when it was deaccessioned and sold at Parke-Bernet; for many years it had been ascribed to David Vinckboons. Glück (1937 and 1951) mentions a replica about the same size as the original in the collection of Count Blankenstein, Bavaria, a free copy by Pieter Brueghel the Younger (private collection, the Netherlands), and what he believes were two early copies of the composition, one listed in an inventory of Antoinette Wiael in 1627, and another (or possibly the same) in a sale of the P. Wouters collection, Brussels, April 1, 1794. Paintings of this subject by Pieter Brueghel the Younger and Abel Grimmer rely mostly on the Hamburg drawing although they also borrow elements from our painting.
Copies of four of the surviving panels (excluding "The Return of the Herd") were sold at Sotheby's, New York, as lot 71, "After Pieter Brueghel, the Elder," on October 6, 1995. At the time of the sale a card was placed by the lot stating that the attribution should read "After Pieter Brueghel the Elder, 19th/20th century." The pictures are described in the catalogue as oil on panel, each measuring 14 3/4 x 19 3/4 in.
A "Landscape with Harvesters" by Joos de Mompers (sale, Sotheby's, London, December 6, 1995, no. 36, 82 x 144 cm), from the Drury Lowe Collection at Locko Park, seems to have been inspired by the MMA picture.