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In this Normandy scene the fields are golden with wheat, the sky intensely blue. At a time when France was industrialising, and the urban population was about to outstrip the rural, the warmth of this view of the agricultural cycle would have been reassuringly nostalgic. Bringing in the harvest with horses hardly differed from the practices of the nineteenth century. Dufy's heightened use of colour and energetic brushstrokes also hark back, recalling Van Gogh's paintings of fifty years earlier.

September 2004