The Harvesters (1565) by Pieter Bruegel

The Harvesters - Pieter Bruegel - 1565

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Harvesters
ArtistPieter Bruegel
MediumOil on Panel
Dimensions116.5 x 159.5 cm
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationMetropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY, US
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About The Harvesters

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting, The Harvesters, is a depiction of a hot summer day in the Netherlands during the harvest season. Commissioned by Antwerp merchant Nicolaes Jonghelinck in 1565, it is one of six paintings in a series that showcases different times and seasons of the year. Bruegel was part of the humanist movement in society and focused on representing everyday people in his art. He subverts traditional perspectives by showing shifts power to peasants’ point view focusing on symbols such as the blades being sharper at their end than their base.

The artwork shows peasants harvesting wheat surrounded by beautiful scenery with mountains in the background symbolizing harmony with nature. In contrast to typical renaissance elements found during this period, such as elegance or individualism within artworks, Bruegel provides a more straightforward portrayal deliberately turning focus away from individualism to working-class laborers who were infamously depicted as insignificant within paintings. Additionally, there are no religious figures visible nor any significant individuals powerful enough to influence society.

The painting also features various implied and actual lines that draw viewers’ attention across its piece projecting an immersive experience allowing them to become entranced by action on canvas structures like gestalt circles which guide eyes.

Pieter Bruegel’s The Harvesters reflects what an artist can achieve when they defy conventional themes inherent during Renaissance time periods such as individualism and religion representation while breaking down imposing class barriers by giving working-class labors center stage for artistic appreciation’s sake- imbuing both artistic merit alongside honest cultural historical significance.

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