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Pieter Bruegel and Raphael

            The Harvesters, an oil painting by Pieter Bruegel, is a prominent piece of art that is currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the piece, Bruegel utilizes techniques of prior Renaissance artist Raphael such as circumscription, composition, and vanishing points to convey an image with multiple levels of depth. The elevated perspective that Bruegel gives the viewer as well as the lack of frame makes the piece looks infinitely large, expanding in all directions. Through the use of orthogonals Bruegel is able to convey an image so expansive that there are multiple stories going on in the image, from the peasants sitting around the tree to the children playing in the distant background. The sense of different levels to the painting is also emphasized via the use of perspectival illusion, a technique that Bruegel borrowed from Raphael, where the artist experiments with different sized shapes as the picture transcends through the background in order to arrive at a vanishing point. Through the use of these different artistic methods, Bruegel is able to conform to the ideal model of art set forth by Alberti: the painting transitions gracefully from foreground to background as the viewer's eyes naturally follow the winding path through the hills; the image appeals to Alberti's preference of naturalism in art as Bruegel depicts a scene that is representative of a typical day harvesting a field in the 1500s; Bruegel's use of a variety of different colors and textures would also appeal to Alberti. But perhaps the aspect of The Harvesters that Alberti would most enjoy is that the picture tells an elevated narrative, or historia. However, Bruegel's use of historia greatly differs from Raphael's. While both artists use this technique of narrating a story of great significance through art, Raphael's art is more spiritual and pushes a religious agenda while Bruegel's The Harvesters is more of a passive historia in a social context.

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