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The Labours of the Months: September
Italian, Venetian
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This is one of 12 small pictures that together show the ‘labours of the months’ – the activities that take place each month throughout the farming year.

A man sits beneath a tree through which a vine has been trained. A large bunch of red grapes hangs from a leafy stem. He uses both hands to squeeze the juice from another bunch into a wooden vat on the ground at his feet. The grape juice will be turned into wine and possibly stored in the barrel we see being made in an earlier scene.

The repeated pattern of strong reds, blues, white and green in this little picture gives it a charming decorative quality.

Key facts
Artist Italian, Venetian
Full title The Labours of the Months: September
Group The Labours of the Months
Date made about 1580
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 13.6 x 10.6 cm
Acquisition credit Layard Bequest, 1916
Inventory number NG3110.3
Location in Gallery Not on display
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The Labours of the Months

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These 12 small pictures may have been made to decorate the recessed panels of a pair of doors, and seem to have been planned in pairs with the figures facing each other. They show the ‘labours of the months’ – the rural activities that take place each month throughout the year.

They are now framed in two groups of six, arranged in an order which reflects that in other, similar cycles and seems to make sense in relation to the seasons depicted, although we cannot be certain this is the original order.

January: A warmly dressed old man sits by a stove.

February: Trimming stakes with a hatchet.

March: Pruning the vines.

April: A cooper making a barrel.

May: A young man holds two rods.

June: A labourer holds a sheaf of corn he has cut with his scythe.

July: A labourer threshes grain with a flail.

August: Exhausted from fruit picking, a labourer sleeps beneath a tree.

September: The vines are harvested and the grapes pressed.

October: The field is ploughed.

November: A hunter with his hawk and hounds.

December: Slaughtering a pig.

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