Grimmer, Abel, ca. 1575-1619

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Abel Grimmer, the creator of this colorful painting, was a practitioner of the Flemish Baroque, active in the southern region of the Netherlands in the late 16th and early 17th century.[1] Much of Grimmer’s work is difficult to distinguish from his father and teacher Jacob Grimmer.[2] Jacob and Abel Grimmer were strongly influenced by the famous Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Reflecting on this painting, "Summer," the peasant-landscape scene that Abel created was also a staple of Bruegel’s works. At a time when few artists were giving attention to the daily activities and social mores of peasants, Pieter Bruegel the Elder developed peasant life as a central theme in his genre landscape paintings, gaining the nickname ‘Peasant’ Bruegel.[3] Abel Grimmer also had interest in architecture, developing skill in rendering church interiors.[4]

What is interesting to note when examining this painting, "Summer," is the almost whimsical, individualistic nature of the scene; not a single character is interacting with or facing another character. Each laborer seems intent and wholly engrossed in his/her own role in the harvest, even at times of rest. The only unifying element between each character -- between these peasant laborers -- is the work at hand.

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands—O prosper the work of our hands!" Psalm 90:17. This last line of the week’s Psalm lectionary text, seen through the lens of Grimmer’s painting, prompts the viewer to reflect -- what truly unites Christian brothers and sisters? Surely, when Christians in community work together, worship together, they are united in shared practice as God surrounds them with the prosperity of belonging to the fellowship of believers.

-- [1] Hans Vlieghe, Flemish art and architecture, 1585-1700 (Hans Vlieghe:1998).[2] Ian Chilvers, Oxford Dictionary of Art 3rd ed. (Oxford University Press, London: 2004), 313.[3] Ibid., 109; Hans Vlieghe, Flemish art and architecture, 1585-1700 (Hans Vlieghe:1998) 149.[4] Ibid., 149; James A. Welu, “The Collector’s Cabinet” Worcester Art Museum.

From The Yorck Project.
Artist:Grimmer, Abel, ca. 1575-1619
Building:Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Belgium)

Scripture:Psalm 90:12-17
Lectionary links:BProp23
General Subject:Work
ICONCLASS Number:46A170

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Attribution:Grimmer, Abel, ca. 1575-1619. Summer, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved April 21, 2024]. Original source:
Record Number:46240 Last Updated: 2021-10-12 13:41:07 Record Created: 2006-06-27 00:00:00
Institution:Vanderbilt University Collection: Art in the Christian Tradition