BRUEGEL, Pieter the Elder
(b. ca. 1525, Brogel, d. 1569, Brussel)

The Corn Harvest (August)

Oil on wood, 118 x 161 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

This is the fourth surviving panel from the series of the Months commissioned by the Antwerp merchant Niclaes Jonghelinck. Once again, Bruegel's composition is made up of a harmonious combination of figures and landscape, showing human preoccupations set against a background of nature and religious faith (represented by the church on the right). Human activity is made to seem peripheral by the strong evocation of the mood of the landscape.

This panel depicts fieldworkers who are exhausted, lying or sitting, eating or sleeping. Each of these paintings has a dominant colour or combination of colours; here it is the yellow of the corn, ripe for harvesting.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 26 minutes):
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 212 (Bauernkantate)