In the Month of July

In the Month of July, Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël, c. 1889 https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/search/objects?q=landscape&p=1&ps=12&st=Objects&ii=5#/SK-A-1505,5

As I scanned the length of this painting, I found that my eyes were drawn to the windmill at the middle of the page. Everything seems to point toward that windmill: the canal; the path to its side; the man walking closer to it; the clouds, at their thickest right above it. Even the unspecified animal on the left (I’m guessing it’s a dog) faces toward the windmill.

Brusati’s reading directs my attention to the horizon line, an artistic element common to Dutch artwork. “Dutch perspective pictures that use the horizon line rather than a central vanishing point as the matrix of the pictorial image both simulate and stimulate visual experience” (Brusati 917). Though the buildings on the horizon line seem far away, the landscape seems to end shortly behind the windmill: even this aspect of the painting draws the viewer’s focus to that central construct.

I’m struck by how empty the surrounding area is. Half of the painting is dedicated to the spacious blue sky populated by giant fluffy clouds. The other half is water and grass, populated only by a man, his dog, and a few bushes. Without the windmill, the canal would be barren, reflecting only the blue of the sky.

The windmill is essential, not only to the painting but to the life of the farmer within it: it represents his livelihood. The windmill makes his farming more effective, and allows him to continue his mostly solitary life. The windmill provides for him the spaciousness of the open horizon, and it enables his own self-reflection.

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2 thoughts on “In the Month of July

  1. I also did my reflection on this painting, and enjoyed examining the similarities and differences in our interpretations. We both were drawn to the windmill at the center of the painting first, before our gazes slowly moved outward. I thought the animal was cow, but the point that both living figures in the painting are moving towards the windmill and reinforcing its centrality. I liked your emphasis on emptiness, as much of the painting is made up of essentially negative space which pushes the windmill forward to the center of our vision. One thing I’m noticing now as I look back at the painting is one major contrast which I was previously unaware of. There is an asymmetrical split in the foreground of the painting between the canal to the left and the bushes and fields to the right. I’m not sure what to make of it, but it’s an interesting detail I hadn’t really noticed before, and it slightly changes the balance of the painting.

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  2. Instantly when I look at this picture, I am drawn to the windmill as it’s the focus of the entire image, being at the very center of the picture. The windmill is the main point of focus in the picture, and without it, the image would be very plain and bland. There is little going on in the picture besides the large windmill. It’s interesting how you mentioned that the landscape seems to disappear past the windmill, it emphasizes how every aspect of the painting was made to acknowledge the windmill. I really like your final paragraph and how you analyzed the windmill beyond just the artistic elements. You show how crucial the windmill is to society, specifically the farmer and his life. I wonder how different this image would be if more objects were added to the background or placed in the scenery, taking away from this singular central object.

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