Painted in circa 1914, Heuernte is a unique work in Amiet’s oeuvre. It is, in fact, the only painting in which he draws from the well-known 19th century art theme of the haystack. However, Amiet’s haystacks are far from the typical realist works of Jean-François Millet. Not concerned with the hard-working life of peasants or conveying any deeper social message, Amiet reduces this theme to pure representation and colour. Whereas artists like Monet approached this subject as a means to study the infinite variations of light, Amiet’s haystacks take on no more significance than the trees in the far background. Haystack, horses, trees and peasants are therefore all depicted on the same flat surface in an exuberant play of thick impastos and fields of primary colours.
Although Van Gogh was no longer alive when Amiet joined the Pont-Aven School in Brittany in 1892, the influence of his unparalleled genius may be found in both Amiet’s early and later works, including the present painting. In stylistic terms, the painter’s brushwork became freer, more expressive, becoming even looser and more expressionist after 1905, when he joined Die Brücke.
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