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This painting, exhibited at the Royal Academy in London in 1856, is typical of the sentimental view of rural life favoured by middle-class gallery visitors.

James Turpin Hart specialised in rustic and narrative scenes. Here, a group of country people are gathered by a stile; the little girl is blowing on a ‘dandelion clock’. According to tradition, the number of puffs it takes to blow away the downy heads will tell you what time it is. The implication is that simple country folk are quaintly ‘in touch with nature’.

September 2004