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Three Figures in the Field

Three Figures in the Field, 1944, Willem van den Berg (Dutch, 1886–1970), Oil on wood, Gift of Sheila and Alvin Ukman, 1977.6.6.

Willem van den Berg has been characterized as a naïve artist, but in fact, he was a highly trained painter whose idealized scenes of country life were done in a purposeful style. Here, several farm workers toil with their scythes to cut wheat or hay.

Following in the footsteps of Dutch Old Masters of the 1500s, the artist’s favorite subject matter was the everyday life of farmers and fishermen in small villages near his home in Amsterdam. He portrayed them in a heroic manner, standing tall in the center of the frame, and painted in strong, earthy colors. They are a celebration of what van den Berg saw as pious, happy, and modest people.