Return of the Herd Pieter Bruegel Buy Art Prints Now
from Amazon

* As an Amazon Associate, and partner with Google Adsense and Ezoic, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

The Return of the Herd is a painting that depicts Bruegel's typical style very well. As the name implies, the painting shows several cows being herded together by men on horses wielding sticks.

The nature in the background is enticing and it is clear that the cows and the herders are up on a hill and have to climb down to reach their destination.

The painting is one of a series of paintings called Months. These paintings were originally commissioned by a wealthy merchant called Niclaes Jonghelinck.

We don't know whether the series consisted of six months, each painting depicting two months, or a total of twelve months.

What we do know is that only five of these paintings survive today, The Return of the Herd representing October / November. The paintings are supposed to represent the different seasons of the year and depict village rituals.

The painting is an oil painting done on wood and it is believed that Bruegel drew directly on to the panels.

The painting was created in 1565, just four years before Bruegel's death. The Return of the Herd is now kept at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, which is located in Vienna in Austria.

A Dutch painter, Pieter Bruegel, was a big name when it came to Renaissance paintings. He trained under another Dutch painter from Antwerp, Pieter Coecke van Aels and was acknowledged as a master of realism.

Most of his famous paintings are scenes of landscapes or peasant life. Some of his peasant paintings were The Peasant Wedding and The Harvesters. This even gave him the epithet of 'Peasant Bruegel'.

Bruegel also covered some unusual themes such as proverbs. He made paintings such as The Blind Leading the Blind and Netherlandish Proverbs. He loved painting scenes of events and also dabbled in religious iconography.