Pieter Bruegel the Elder, a pivotal figure in art history, created the genre painting “Soldiers at Rest” between 1555 and 1556. This work is part of his Northern Renaissance style contributions and belongs to a series known as “The Large Landscapes.” The scene depicts a group of soldiers with halberds and long staffs atop a hill in an expansive alpine river valley. In the foreground, three soldiers are taking a break, while two others are positioned at the hill’s crest, and several more stroll around the composition’s left and right sides.
“Solders at Rest” is held in high esteem for its innovative approach to landscape painting, a testament to Bruegel’s influence on Dutch Golden Age painting and beyond. His choice to focus on landscapes and contemporary life rather than grand narratives marked a significant departure from the Italian Renaissance style that dominated the previous century. Bruegel’s work often featured rural working life, religion, superstition, and the political and social intrigues of his time, reflecting his upbringing in what is now the Netherlands during the 1520s, purportedly in a peasant family.
This particular piece is executed in ink on paper and measures 33 x 43 cm. It is currently housed in the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston, MA, US.