This painting is one in a series of six works that depict different times of the year. As in many of Pieter Bruegel´s paintings, the focus is on peasants and their work. Some of the peasants are shown eating while others are harvesting wheat, a depiction of both the production and consumption of food. 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 rear can be seen picking pears.
Bruegel’s series is a watershed in the history of western art. The religious pretext for landscape painting has been suppressed in favor of a new humanism, and the unidealized description of the local scene is based on natural observations. [from the wall text at Metropolitan Museum of Art]
The Harvesters by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
(Flemish, Breda (?) ca. 1525–1569 Brussels), 1565, Oil on wood, 46 7/8 x 63 3/4 in. (119 x 162 cm); original painted surface 45 7/8 x 62 7/8 in. (116.5 x 159.5 cm). This panel belongs to a series, commissioned by the Antwerp merchant Niclaes Jongelinck for his suburban home. The cycle originally included six paintings showing the times of the year. Apart from The Harvesters, which is usually identified as representing July–August, or late summer, four other paintings of the group have survived (now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, and Lobkowicz Collection, Prague).