Looking at Bruegel

I remember The Harvesters by Peter Bruegel from a projected slide in the first-year art history class I took decades ago. Recently I viewed the original again at the Metropolitan Museum in New york.

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It is an impressive, important painting, about four by five feet in size.

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Hey look! Here it is on the spine of an art history survey book:

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What I remember from the original art history lecture was how, even that long ago, artists liked big abstract shapes.

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But when I saw it this time, I finally looked past that big shape to see  marvelous little things.

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Of course we see the group having lunch, one guy snoozing. But check out this little detail of pears, dish, spoon.

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Another intriguing detail, a jug, just inside the edge of the uncut wheat. Maybe compositionally necessary.

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And the folks carrying sheaves up the road, an ox drawn wagon further along.

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Further in the distance, folks seem to be playing some kind of game, and there are spectators. The details of the houses are pretty cool.

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And far off, a couple ships on the water.

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Bruegel tells quite a story in this picture, not just the harvest, but something about the happenings of the day beyond the scything of wheat.

 

 

 

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