(b. ca. 1515, Bassano, d. 1592, Bassano)

Summer (Sacrifice of Isaac)

c. 1575
Oil on canvas, 79 x 111 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Jacopo Bassano was a painter of religious scenes and a discerning portraitist but he primarily owes his fame to the invention of an utterly new genre, one that combined pastoral themes with biblical and allegorical subjects. His depictions of the seasons - unique in cinquecento Italian painting - were probably inspired by Pieter Bruegel's, Pieter Aertsen's and Joachim Beuckelaer's works and scored great and lasting success. Bassano's workshop painted innumerable replicas of these compositions, which came to be known even beyond the Alps through prints, in particular those made by the members of the Sadeler family.

In this painting the theme of summer is introduced by a scene of sheep-shearing and a woman pausing for repose with three children. The three scenes in the middle ground - harvesting, gathering, and thrashing the crop - confirm that the episode takes place in summer. In the background on the left, the sketchily depicted figures are engaged in the scene of the sacrifice of Isaac.