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The painting is a companion scene to Winter (also in the Royal Collection), although it was only when both pictures were in the collection of Frederick, Prince of Wales, that they seem to
have been treated as a pair.
X-ray examination reveals that the priming on all the additional pieces of canvas is identical, but differs from that of the central section of this work. It appears that the design on the initial piece of canvas had not been fully resolved in all respects by the time the extra portions were added. The join on the left is on a line with the tall windswept trees, which seem to have been painted over the sky and therefore may be regarded as an adaptation of the original design, which most probably incorporated a clear view through to the horizon. On the right the design has been more radically changed as a result of the addition. A steep bank (still visible to the naked eye) originally closed the composition, but this was painted out so that the horizon could be extended in the upper half and a further group of farm buildings introduced in the middle distance. The addition along the lower edge allowed for the horse and cart in the immediate foreground. In effect, if the additions are discounted, the original composition remains an entity in its own right, but the changes alter the dynamics of the painting, placing greater emphasis on the peasants wending their way to market.
The composition of Summer is distinguished. There is an emphasis on contrasting diagonals that reinforces the sense of movement begun by the figures in the foreground. The eye is plunged into the distance across a glorious landscape that is positively pantheistic in its celebration of nature (note the cow being mounted in the centre of the composition). Regardless of differences in scale and style, a telling comparison can be made between Summer and The Flemish Fair by Jan Brueghel the Elder. Interestingly, it has been suggested that the composition of Summer depends upon a lost painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder entitled On the Way to Market, only known today through an anonymous drawn copy in the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich.