Harvester’s Meal – Pieter Bruegel the Younger

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Pieter Bruegel the Younger

Pieter Bruegel the Younger was born in 1564, in Brussels, Belgium. His father died when Pieter was only 5 years old and was followed by his mother, in 1578. With this, Pieter and his brother and sister, Jan Bruegel and Marie Bruegel, went to live with their grandmother. Their grandmother, Mayken Verhulst, who was an artist on her own, was possibly who taught Pieter how to paint. The family went to Antwerp a while after 1578, where Pieter entered the studio of Gillis van Coninxloo and, within the year of 1584/85, Pieter Bruegel was listed as an independent master. He got married to Elisabeth Goddelet in late 1588. The couple had seven children, one of whom, with the same name than his father, also became an artist. In Antwerp, Bruegel ran a studio which produced many copies of his father’s works for local sale or export. Despite this, he struggled with financial difficulties due to his drinking problem. Pieter Brugel died on October 10, 1636, in Antwerp.

The Harvesters Meal, Metropolitan Museum

In this three dimensional painting, we can clearly observe peasants working on the harvest on the left, as well as a small group of peasants having a meal on the foreground.

We notice at first sight that these people aren’t the finest, in social terms due to their simple clothes. They are sitting on stacks of hay, gathered around a white blanket, on which the food is displayed.

Their meal seems to consist of simple food items like bread, soup and some fruit.

Some people in the background seem to be chatting and other two people seem to be gathering the hay. We can also see a village in the back, with its higher tower and some other buildings.

Light comes from the upper left side of the painting and colors are mainly earth like, conveying some harmony and connection to the landscape.

There is a triangle when the viewer focus on the three elements in red (two peasants and the roof of a house in the background) which together with the roof of the church lends a pyramid form to the painting.

Most common dishes of the Renaissance (for

peasants poor people)


    • Acquacotta


    • Aquacotta



    • Tomato
    • Various vegetables and leftover foods
    • Porcini mushrooms
    • Salt (during preparation)
    • Olive oil
    • Onion
    • Water
    • Stale bread


    • Preparation in advance

One of the onions must be burned over an open flame to bring a lovely caramel taste. All the vegetables must be put it a pot with cold water.


    • Preparation

In a large pot, cook up some finely chopped onion, carrot and celery in a little oil. It’s better to cook the onion first instead of cooking everything at the same time. The porcini mushrooms must be added by this time. Once the vegetables are cooked, add in the peeled and chopped tomato. While the soup simmers away, slice the bread (which must be one or two days old) and grill it over an open fire.


  • To serve

Acquacotta is supposed to be served on a flat hollow, with bread by its side. It is hearty enough to be considered as a complete meal in itself, although with smaller servings you could make it a delicious starter followed by a light meat dish.



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