A good harvest – 1 October 2018
Here is a scene of harvest. The atmosphere is hot and humid at the noon of the day. The peasant harvesters have stopped to eat their meal. They eat bread and cheese and pears, washed down with whatever is in their drinking vessels. One man is sated, and naps in the shade of the tree. Elsewhere in the picture others are working. The men stand tall, like the wheat that they are scything. The women bend to tie the sheaves together, mimicking their shape so that they begin to merge with the harvest field. There is a sense that all is well with their world, as food production and consumption, and the aftermath, are all depicted in the same picture.
The picture was painted by Pieter Bruegel the Elder in 1565, one of a set of six paintings showing times of the year. This picture relates to August/September. It is a truly great painting, often considered the first modern landscape. Previously landscape paintings served religious purposes and depicted idealised scenes. This is a humanist painting, realistic and un-idealised, with the peasants prominent.
We are in the season of harvest celebrations and thanksgivings. It is a time to be thankful for the production of our food, and our joy in consuming it.
Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
who sustains and governs us,
producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
You visit the earth and water it;
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide their grain,
for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.
All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
For all His love.
Matthias Claudius 1782