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The early aspiration behind painting in the Netherlands is quite encompassing. Pieter Bruegel Elder is among the revered Dutch painters to have graced this art. In his art, Bruegel worked to incorporate the aspect of landscape and this defied easy interpretation thus demonstrating some of his best innovations. Working in the Reformation aftermath, Bruegel managed to separate the landscape from common tradition, hence achieving a palpable and contemporary natural vision of the world. The eternal and the momentary seem to be speaking in a common voice. The mystical and the rational arrive at a similar conclusion[1]. There is always something sensual as well as something strict. This diverse range creates the illusion of a real environment, but creates a near paradise that places everything in its respective place. It attempts to bring forth distant panorama and detail into metaphysical balance, the country, city, crowd, and the final individual.


Pieter Bruegel, whom most recognize as Pieter Bruegel Elder was a revered member of a great Dutch family of artists that was active between the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries. Bruegel, who resided in Antwerp Netherlands, incorporated a traditional humanizing spirit to his works as well as creating others bodily. He was regarded as an inventive drafter and painter. Due to the family’s continuity in trade and industry, the impact made by Bruegel was long lasting and widespread. Born in 1530, Bruegel decided to settle early in Antwerp and developed into a master in the Saint Luke painter’s Guild between 1550 and 1551[2]. After taking a trip to Italy, he began his long affiliation to Hieronymus Cock that produced various prints on diverse subjects. Between 1554 and 1562, Bruegel managed to make over forty engraving designs whose production capitalized on the high image demand in the manner or style of Hieronymus Bosch.

The ingenious and novel way through which Bruegel was able to translate moralized subjects into vernacular is attested in his paintings and drawings. Among these paintings, include the Netherlandish Proverbs that illustrates 100 proverbs in a Flemish village setting. This art is considered among Bruegel’s popular images. In other paintings such as the Fall of Icarus, Bruegel enlarged the viewers’ perspective to make the titular action a broad vision of the cultivated and natural world. Bruegel depicted the folk play and country fair boisterous activities, paying close attention to emphatic and broad gestures of celebrants[3]. While these works worked to demonstrate the artist’s attention to detail and his good observation on village settings. They were more than everyday life simple recreations. Ultimately, his works represent strong compositions, controlled and organized brilliantly reflecting an advanced artistic design.

In his art, Bruegel loved to use landscape and this defied easy interpretation and this demonstrates perhaps his best innovation. Working in the Reformation aftermath, Bruegel separated the landscape from iconographic tradition, hence achieving a palpable and contemporary natural world vision. For the Antwerp home, Bruegel made various paintings with only a few surviving to date, including Return of the Herd, Gloomy Day, Haymaking, Hunters in the Snow and The Harvesters. Though they represented the seasons, Bruegels’ works placed emphasis on the transformation and atmosphere of the landscape. This is because these panoramic compositions imply a universal and insightful world vision- one that differentiates all the work of their artist.

Bruegel drew his paintings with oil since this was the major medium for painting in the 16th century in Europe. Oil painting versatility made it a relevant factor in establishing the new artistic style of painting in Netherlands by combining brilliant color and great realism. Admixture in oils gives a translucent quality in most pigments, thus allowing artists to apply coloration in thin glazes or layers. In the course of the 15th and 16th centuries, the art of oil painting grew rapidly and more economical. These developments are well illustrated by Pieter Brugel’s works. One exemplified painting by this artist is The Harvesters. This painting shows thin luminous layer of paint that do not conceal the drawings beneath. It is enhanced by descriptive and direct brushstrokes in the thicker paint at the top. Oil paintings are very flexible since it allows color application in fine detail and thick impasto[4]. Due to its fast drying properties, it can be blended carefully to create shadows that suggest three-dimension forms. All these properties make it suitable pass reflective properties from distinct surfaces such as dazzling jewels, polished marble and soft velvet.

Among all the art works done by Bruegel, The Harvesters painting arguably stands out. In description, The Harvesters is among five other paintings that he made for the suburban Antwerp home for Niclaes Jongelinck, a wealthy merchant who owned about sixteen of Bruegel’s paintings. His paintings are thought to represent times or seasons of the year. Through his intriguing sensitivity to the aspects of nature, he was able to create a watershed in Western art history by suppressing the iconographic and religious illustrations of the seasons by favoring an un-idealized landscape vision. The Harvesters perhaps represents September and August. It exhibits a ripe wheat field partly cut and stacked.

Bruegel’s emphasis on his artistic painting style is illustrated by a number of aspects in the painting. This painting illustrates a ripe wheat field in addition to the surrounding landscape. This serves to confirm the assertion that the artist had a knack of showing his environmental interests through his works. As seen in the painting, the surrounding is hilly with diverse vegetation. In the foreground, a number of workers are having a picnic in a heat-relieving tree shade[5]. In the meantime, others continue to harvest the wheat and gather it into stacks. The vastness of the landscape is a revelation of the artist’s emphasis on marking the time of the year through the landscape transformation and atmosphere. . The ripe wheat field suggests the time of year, to be between August and September. This normally the time when wheat becomes ripe and then harvested. This is another illustration of Bruegel’s emphasis on the environment. From observation, we can see the peasant with sickles, which they use to cut the wheat sheaves[6]. After harvesting, they are arranged in bundles to ease transportation. Prior to development of machinery technology, wheat was harvested manually and transported for further processing.

The colors in this painting offer great contribution to its appearance. The colors at the top are warm, and those beneath are cold. Bruegel used a darker hue to create a barrier between the two parts. Part of it is green in color, while another portion is yellow. The painting looks bright. This is specifically enhanced the color yellow. The color enables viewers to have a better understanding of certain details in the painting. Furthermore, the composition of the painting shows the properly arranged elements. This work is idealized by the artist, with some of his emphasis on the environment. Bruegel in this painting illustrates labor during this season of the year as well as how the landscapes and atmosphere changes[7]. The mood of this painting is lively and bright. This is influenced by the activities in the painting and the surrounding. The light also contributes to the lively and bright mood. This painting has successfully depicted some themes, of when it was originally painted.

The harvesters is a visual representation of the far and the near. The aspect of near comes through the harvesters. Bruegel shows a real picture of life activities. We can see in the foreground a man slumped with intoxication or exhaustion, the men wrapping up their work for noon break, and the dining people on a picnic. We see women walking through the fields like stacks of grain and a woman with grained hair. There is something sentimental about the artist’s brush. He shows compassion to the peasants and the harsh life they have to live. He sets the “far” in the wonder of “near” through the world of wood and corn. We see small hills spread into the distance. Into the background, the peasants appear to be swallowed up or disappearing. He makes his viewers aware of the spaciousness rather than just space- an immense satisfaction of a potential paradise on earth. No other artist can bring out landscape through this kind of intellectual subtlety. Bruegel simply does this with seemingly little effort.

Works Cited

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Netherlandish, active by 1551, died 1569) Oil on wood. Heilbrunn timeline of art history. Metpublications, March 21, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2013.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1525/30–1569). Heilbrunn timeline of art history. Metpublications, March 21, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2013.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Painting in Oil in the Low Countries and Its Spread to Southern Europe. Heilbrunn timeline of art history. Metpublications, March 21, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2013.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Harvesters: Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Netherlandish, Breda (?) ca. 1525–1569 Brussels). Heilbrunn timeline of art history. Metpublications, March 21, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2013.

[1] The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1525/30–1569). Heilbrunn timeline of art history. Metpublications, March 21, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2013.