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.
It is an impressive, important painting, about four by five feet in size.
Hey look! Here it is on the spine of an art history survey book:
What I remember from the original art history lecture was how, even that long ago, artists liked big abstract shapes.
But when I saw it this time, I finally looked past that big shape to see marvelous little things.
Of course we see the group having lunch, one guy snoozing. But check out this little detail of pears, dish, spoon.
Another intriguing detail, a jug, just inside the edge of the uncut wheat. Maybe compositionally necessary.
And the folks carrying sheaves up the road, an ox drawn wagon further along.
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.
And far off, a couple ships on the water.
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.