Soldiers at Rest (1555 – 1556) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Soldiers at Rest - Pieter Bruegel the Elder - 1555 - 1556

Artwork Information

TitleSoldiers at Rest
ArtistPieter Bruegel the Elder
Date1555 - 1556
Dimensions33 x 43 cm
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationMuseum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, MA, US

About Soldiers at Rest

The artwork “Soldiers at Rest” is a creation of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, a pivotal figure in art history heralding from the Northern Renaissance. This genre painting, dated between 1555 and 1556, is executed in ink on paper and is part of “The Large Landscapes” series. The composition measures 33 by 43 centimeters and currently resides in the prestigious Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) located in Boston, MA, US. Within its fine lines and detailed imagery, the artwork reveals a serene yet evocative depiction of soldiers taking respite within a vast and varied landscape.

In the artwork, we observe a group of soldiers in repose under the shade of an expansive tree, which occupies the left portion of the composition. The tree’s branches stretch outward, partly framing the scene and providing a stark contrast against the sky behind it. The soldiers appear in various postures of rest and conversation, implying a temporary cessation of activity. In the background, a panoramic landscape unfolds. Rolling hills, distant mountains, and several buildings, including houses and what appear to be fortresses, dot the intricate landscape, imbuing the scene with depth and dimension. A smattering of other figures can be seen engaging in various tasks throughout the landscape, alluding to the continuation of daily life and tasks outside of the soldiers’ moment of leisure. The attention to detail is meticulous, typical of Bruegel’s work, and offers a glimpse into the everyday life and surroundings of the time. The artwork’s title “MILITES REQUIESCENTES” is inscribed at the bottom-center, further emphasizing the theme of rest.

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