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

Haymaking (July)

Oil on panel, 117 x 161 cm
Lobkowicz Collections, Lobkowicz Palace, Prague

Neither the signature nor the date have survived on this panel, but it clearly belongs to the series of the Months, all the other panels of which are dated 1565. July and August are the months of the harvest, and this painting and the August panel (The Corn Harvest) show the bringing-in of the harvest. It is not just the grain that is being harvested but, as can be seen in the foreground, vegetables and berries as well. While each painting in the series shows the traditional occupation of that month, Bruegel's real subject is the landscape itself, its ever-changing appearance. There is a profound sense in which human activity is at best peripheral to the life of the landscape itself. Bruegel is concerned to show that the seasonal concerns of men are dictated by the land.