Summary

Rothenstein first rented a cottage at Oakridge Lynch, Gloucestershire in 1912, while making a series of portrait drawings of Rabindranath Tagore. Later that year he discovered an old farmhouse at Far Oakridge, near Stroud, overlooking the Golden Valley. Iles Farm was at that time inhabited by a labourer's family and in need of repair. The Rothensteins purchased it together with fifty-five acres of woodland for 631300. They renovated the house and settled there, keeping a house in the area until the artist's death. Rothenstein's work was especially prolific during his early years there, when he made many pictures of the farm and neighbouring villages: 'In the changing drama of the year I found constant inspiration. In London, when no model came, I would feel at a loss; not so in the country, and the Cotswold buildings are especially paintable. Stone buildings always move me - austere in grey weather, pale, livid even, against a stormy sky, they are warm and sparkling in the sunlight.' (Rothenstein, II, p.274.) In 1927 he bought another cottage, Winstons, also in Far Oakridge, which he rented out while he was working in London. He rediscovered the area as a source of inspiration when he began using the cottage for weekends in the early 1930s: 'I continued to paint farms and barns. I wandered again through the quiet valleys in which lovely villages were hidden.' (Rothenstein, II, p.374.)

This picture and a version of the same subject in gouache were exhibited at the Leicester Galleries, London, in October 1938. This work was also exhibited at Bradford City Art Gallery as part of the 1951 Festival of Britain.

Further reading:
William Rothenstein, Men and Memories, II, London 1932, pp.272-9, 374
Robert Speaight, William Rothenstein: The Portrait of an Artist in his Time, London 1962, pp.265-6, 282-3, 379-80

Terry Riggs
January 1998