The Harvesters

Artist: Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Netherlandish, Breda (?) ca. 1525–1569 Brussels)

Date: 1565

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: 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)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1919

Accession Number: 19.164

Description

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.

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