The Golf Book (Book of Hours)

The Golf Book (Book of Hours) f. 25v, August, harvest

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f. 25v, August, harvest

The painting shows different aspects of peasant occupations in the month of August. Several peasants are shown sitting on the grass in the foreground, eating during a break from their work. Lying on the floor are the scythes and the pick or stick used to lift, separate and hold the spikes of wheat together. The peasant behind them cutting the cereal has a cloth tucked in his belt containing the string for tying sheaves and the whetstone for sharpening the blade. The sown field is delimited by a fence made of wicker canes woven around stakes driven into the ground. On the left, separated by a canal or river with swimming swans and a small bridge, is a path with a horse-drawn cart loaded with sheaves of straw going along it. The background of the composition shows another peasant harvesting and a large, fortress-like building and a church which contrasts with the rural buildings in front of it.
The hardships of harvesting were portrayed in two ways in the Middle Ages: actively, shown in the Golf Book in the mid-ground and background, in which the harshness of farming labour in the relentless sun was depicted by means of a hunched peasant with a scythe in one hand about to cut the cereal; and passively, by means of a woman feeding the labourers. The British Library manuscript alludes to the excessive heat and the need for refreshment, depicted by items such as the water jug and bowl.


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