Many painters since the fifteenth century have dedicated series to the four seasons of the calendar. Possibly one of the most unique examples are the famous paintings by the Italian Arcimboldo. But there are many great masters who have been inspired by the changes in the landscape and agricultural work at each time of the year, even in times closer to our days, as is the case with Goya.
Harvest of David Teniers the Younger
But today we are going to focus on a painting by the Flemish painter David Teniers the Younger (1610 – 1690) a good representative of what painting is baroque in Belgian lands in the middle of the 17th century.
In this case we are going to focus on the painting dedicated to summer, which is en titled “The Harvest” with which the link between this type of work and the rural world calendar is clear.
Here we see some of the work that Flemish farmers do in the hottest months, but above all we see the characteristic landscape of this area of northern Europe that includes both Flanders like today's Netherlands. Territories where landscaping was a genre in itself with artists of the quality of Ruysdael or Hobbema.
A friendly landscape is distinguished, in which a small hill stands out, which cannot prevent the wide horizons dominated by the sky from dominating. And this time,Teniers the Younger delights us with a stupendous rainbow, something that he must have copied or replicated from works he would know of his compatriot Rubens, with whom he was indirectly related. And it is that Teniers married one of the daughters of Jan Brueghel, who in turn was Rubens's goddaughter. So we can see that the artists' guild was closely linked to each other.
The church is also striking, and its verticality thanks to a needle that points towards the heights. Both that detail and the rainbow seem to enrich the meaning of the sight, since it can be linked to a biblical passage in which God creates a rainbow before Noah's eyes to capture the union with divinity. That is to say that in this apparently innocent view of a Belgian landscape with which to reflect the summer work, the artist may be hiding some symbolism, which we ignore today.
However, there are also scholars who think that it is simply a beautiful painting of the Flemish countryside on a July afternoon after a short summer storm.