Summary

Although De Wint is best known as a watercolour artist, he launched his career as a painter in oil and produced an important body of work in this medium, ranging from plein air sketches to finished subjects. This small harvesting study was made at a time, in the early nineteenth century and the years 1807-15 particularly, when a number of landscape artists were turning to agricultural themes. The wars against France (1793-1802 and 1803-15) did much to stimulate contemporary interest in agriculture, which was seen as a vital part of the war effort. Moreover, it was a time when open fields and commons were rapidly being enclosed, and agriculture became accordingly more efficient. Children worked in the fields as soon as they were able, from the age of nine or ten or even younger. De Wint's study shows a group of child harvesters resting during lunch. It was almost certainly sketched out of doors.

Further reading:
Hammond Smith, Peter De Wint 1784-1849, London 1982, pp.62-70

Terry Riggs
October 1997