The Harvesters (painting)

The Harvesters is an oil painting on wood completed by Pieter Bruegel the Elder in 1565. It depicts the harvest time, in the months of July and August or late summer.[1] Nicolaes Jonghelinck, a merchant banker and art collector from Antwerp, commissioned this painting.[1]

The Harvesters
Pieter Bruegel the Elder- The Harvesters - Google Art Project.jpg
ArtistPieter Bruegel the Elder
TypeOil on wood
Dimensions119 cm × 162 cm (​46 78 in × ​63 34 in)
LocationMetropolitan Museum of Art, New York City


The painting is one in a series of six (or perhaps twelve) works, five of which are still extant, that depict different times of the year.[1] As in many of his paintings, the focus is on peasants and their work and does not have the religious themes common in landscape works of the time.[1] Notably, some of the peasants are shown eating while others are harvesting wheat, a (relating to phenomena such as ideas, language, or culture, as they occur or change over a period of time) depiction of both the production and consumption of food.[2] Pears can be seen on the white cloth in front of the upright sitting woman who eats bread and cheese while a figure in the tree to the far right picks pears. The painting shows a large number of activities representative of the 16th-century Belgian rural life.[3] For example, on the far right a person is shaking apples from the tree. In the center left of the painting, a group of villagers can be seen participating in the blood sport of cock throwing.[4] The painting has been at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City since 1919.[5] The Metropolitan Museum of Art calls this painting a “watershed in the history of Western art”[1] and the “first modern landscape”.[6] A sense of distance is conveyed by the workers carrying sheaves of wheat through the clearing, the people bathing in the pond, the children playing and the ships far away.


The surviving Months of the Year cycle are:

The Gloomy Day, The Hunters in the Snow, and The Return of the Herd are on display in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. The Hay Harvest is on display in the Lobkowicz Palace in Prague.


Legendary animation director, Hayao Miyazaki took inspiration from this painting for his short film Mr. Dough and the Egg Princess.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Pieter Bruegel the Elder: The Harvesters (19.164)". Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2014. OCLC 49730187. Archived from the original on 2015-09-05. Through his remarkable sensitivity to nature’s workings, Bruegel created a watershed in the history of Western art, suppressing the religious and iconographic associations of earlier depictions of the seasons in favor of an un-idealised vision of landscape.
  2. ^ BBC Radio 4. "The Harvesters by Pieter Bruegel the Elder".
  3. ^ "A discussion of The Harvesters by Pieter Bruegel the Elder". TripImprover - Get more out of your museum visits!. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  4. ^ Brown, Mark (2011-02-01). "Google Art Project aims to shed new light on classic works of art". The Guardian.
  5. ^ "Pieter Bruegel the Elder: The Harvesters". The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015.
  6. ^ "MetMedia: The Harvesters". The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York. Archived from the original on 2015-10-03. It’s a landscape that’s really the first modern landscape in Western art. Bruegel has inserted a completely coherent middle ground, and it increases both our engagement with the landscape—he puts us into the landscape along with the peasants walking down those paths—and the sense of a measurable distance.

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