Sir Hamo Thornycroft

Sketch for ‘The Mower’

1882

Artist
Sir Hamo Thornycroft 1850–1925
Medium
Wax on wooden base
Dimensions
Object: 216 x 121 x 83 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Lady Thornycroft 1926
Reference
N04214

Not on display

Summary

This is a wax model for the work exhibited first as a plaster at the Royal Academy in 1884 and again at the Academy in 1894, this time in bronze. The bronze, in which the pose of this piece is reversed, was purchased in 1894 by the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. According to Spielmann, the sculptor first placed the scythe in the mower's hands with the blade held upwards instead of downwards as in the Tate sketch and the final version. Many bronze statuettes of The Mower were produced in two sizes, and shown at provincial and foreign exhibitions, and frequent references to these occur in the sculptor's diary between 1902 and 1909.

The 1884 Royal Academy catalogue included the following quotation from Matthew Arnold's 'Thyrsis' (published 1867): 'A Mower, who as the tiny swell | Of our boat passing heaved the river grass, | Stood with suspended scythe to see us pass'.

Companion pieces to The Mower were the artist's A Mower Whetting his Scythe (exhibited Royal Academy 1924, private collection) and the bronze The Sower (cast in plaster 1886, Kew Gardens, London). The Tate also owns a bronze cast of The Mower in a different pose (1888-90, Tate Gallery T03963).

Further reading:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1988, pp.81-2
Elfrida Manning, Marble & Bronze: The Art and Life of Hamo Thornycroft, London and Westfield, New Jersey 1982, pp.17, 90-96, 99, 122, 190, 207 no.152a

Terry Riggs
January 1998

Catalogue entry

N04214 SKETCH FOR THE MOWER 1882–4

Inscr. ‘H.T. Aug-25 1882’ between feet.

Wax on wooden base, 8 1/2×4 3/4×3 1/4 (21·5×12×8·5).

Presented by Lady Thornycroft 1926.
Lit: M. H. Spielmann, British Sculpture and Sculptors of To-Day, 1901, p.41.

This is a model for the work exhibited first as a plaster at the R.A. in 1884 (1856) and again in bronze at the R.A. in 1894 (1744). The bronze, in which the pose of N04214 is reversed, was purchased in 1894 by the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (repr. op. cit., p.43). According to Spielmann the sculptor first placed the scythe in the mower's hands with the blade held upwards instead of downwards as in No.4214 and the final version, and a bronze (8 in. high) in the same pose as N04214 but with the blade held upwards belongs to Lady Thornycroft; this is signed and dated ‘H.T. 1884’. A second, smaller version of the final bronze is also in the Thornycroft collection; it measures 23×9×6 3/4 in., and is signed and dated ‘Hamo Thornycroft R.A. Sc. 1919’. Many bronze statuettes of ‘The Mower’ were produced in two sizes, 14 in. and 22 in. high, and shown at provincial and foreign exhibitions, and frequent references to these occur in the sculptor's diary between 1902 and 1909.

The 1884 R.A. catalogue had the following quotation from Matthew Arnold's Thyrsis:

A Mower, who, as the tiny swell
of our boat passing heaved the river grass,
Stood with suspended scythe to see us pass.

Companion pieces to ‘The Mower’ were ‘A Harvester whetting his Scythe’ and ‘The Sower’.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II