During the Middle Ages, painters were highly respected and regarded as members of the elite in the society. They were cherished as individuals with great skills; in the same level and probably higher in class than the goldsmiths, the merchants of the time and even the best carpenters. Renaissance, as Getlein & Gilbert (2010) point out is a word originating from the Greek and Roman word which means “rebirth”. They note that the Renaissance was the period between the year 1400 and 1600; “…a time when there was increased development of interest of the cultures of the Romans and the Greeks” (Getlein & Gilbert 366). During this time, the status held by painters greatly shifted from that of craft workers who were rather unknown to the larger public to that of persons who were highly skilled and whose respect within the society even surpassed that of the then princes and rulers!
The Renaissance saw a total alteration of the way art was viewed and treated. Just like Michelangelo put it this was a time when “art” came to light; due to the point that it was then that the Western culture started embracing the concepts of painting, architecture and even sculpture. Getlein & Gilbert also note that the ideologies of this age were of great significance as great numbers of the then artists developed interest in making observations of the world and then putting them down in painting with as much accuracy as possible (Getlein & Gilbert, 2010 pp. 366).
Among the Western countries where renaissance was first experienced in the days of old was Italy. This was a country which had a booming economy by then. There were developed cities like Rome that were very wealthy and highly competitive. As a result of this wealth in these city states, there wealthy and influential families that desired the best even in art. As such, they often took pride in commissioning expensive art projects and hiring the most skilled artists work on their projects. The presence of the Church and its widespread influence also played a significant role in the development of the renaissance artists. Donatello one of these artists, is considered to be amongst the finest of all time. Donatello was able to sculpture a statue of the Saint Mark, an outstanding artwork that has remained revered to date. According Getlein & Gilbert, Donatello owed his excellence in artwork to his teacher, Lorenzo Ghiberti, who was also a renowned artist of the early 15th Century (Getlein & Gilbert 367).
The works of the renaissance artists have remained a global admiration to date. Below is an analysis of the renaissance work of the 16th Century artist, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Harvesters of 1565.
Part I-General Information
This is an art of the Northern Renaissance. This artwork was found in the Limbourg brothers’ manuscript. It gave a representation of a given peasant household. Charles notes that on the background of the original picture it is winter (Charles 25). He continues to state that this was an artwork by Bruegel, a painter of Dutch origin and was done in the 16th century. Actually, the Harvesters is believed to have been painted by Bruegel in the year 1565 (Charles). Bruegel made adjustments to the artwork when he was working on it to give a representation of a season of the final stages of summer. In most cases, the Harvesters is considered to depict a time of between July and August, during late summer. The painting is believed to have been originally done in Brussels. The fine artwork is believed to have been done from a combination of oil and wood.
Part II-Description and Form
The Harvesters is shows a wheat field with wheat that is ripe and has been partially cut and stacked. On the foreground, a group of peasant farmers who are resting from their respective duties have picnic under a pear tree’s shade. Just behind them is a heap of the wheat that they have been harvesting all day. According to Charles, “…a couple are visible gathering wheat into several forms of bundles and then they have the bundles tied; three men are also seen cutting the stalks by making use of scythes as the ladies are seen moving through the field’s corridors, with stacks of grains carried over each one of their shoulders” (Charles, 20). Further away, more unfolds. There is an animation of a valley that clearly depicts the scenes seen in sort of village life. An expansive field of wheat is also visible as does a bay consisting of traffic from numerous ships.
The peasants who are in the foreground picking are making use of the stacked grain to make benches for themselves. They can be seen quenching their hunger by eating up bread and drinking milk from bowls just to add on to the pears they have from the tree. Taking a closer look of the picture, a man can be noticed on the opposite side of the group sleeping in a position that portrays abandonment. A pair of peasants can also be seen looking towards the direction of the viewer of the photo as they continue with their feasting. The picture also gives a clear and precise binding of mankind and nature. This can be explained by the growing grains that are visible from the headdress of the lady who is seen collecting wheat on the background; hence, making her form a shape of some haystack.
This was one of the most wonderful paintings that has ever been made. With the original dimensions of 45 7/8 X 62 7/8, it could be clearly read, interpreted and analyzed by any concerned individual.
Part III-Opinions and Conclusions
The team responsible for bringing up a wonderful painting in the Harvesters, is believed to have been assembled and sponsored by the great Niclaes Jongelinck. He commissioned the painting for his home. There were six original paintings that depicted several periods spread across the year. The series by Bruegel gave a clear representation of the history portrayed by western art of the time. There has been suppression of the pretext based on religion for painting due to the favor accorded to resurging humanism. This description of the painting is un-idealized concerning the local scene with a basis of the natural observations that have been made.
- Charles, Victoria. Pieter Bruegel: Perfect Square. New York: Confidential Concepts, 2014. Print.
- Getlein, Mark and Rita Gilbert. Living with art. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2010.