Pieter Bruegel the Elder, ca. 1525–1569, Flemish
Parable of the Sower, 1557
Oil on wood panel, 73.7 x 102.9 cm (29 x 40-1/2 in.)
This painting of the parable of the sower from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke is among the earliest signed paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, one of the geniuses of Northern European painting. A lone peasant in the left foreground scatters seeds on an upland pasture. The seeds he has already sown have multiplied in the fields below him to the right and in the middle distance. Across the river, a small crowd gathers to hear Jesus preaching. Bruegel left Antwerp in 1553 to study in Italy, and on his return made drawings of the Alps, which influenced the detail and aerial perspective of the landscape in this painting.
Fernand Stuyck del Bruyère, Antwerp, 1924 
Acquired by the Putnam Foundation, 1957
 The picture first came to notice when it was bought by Fernand Stuyck at public auction at the Fievez Gallery, Brussels, in 1924. It was then catalogued simply as Flemish school, seventeenth century. In December of that year, when it was cleaned by the elder Mr. Buesco, conservator for the Belgian royal family, the signature and date were revealed. The painting came to the United States just before World War II. It was then shown in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.