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Uwins first recognized the pictorial possibilities of harvesting while on a visit to the hop-fields of Farnham, Surrey, in 1811. His ambition to paint an important vineyard subject probably dates from this period. In 1817, after the Napoleonic Wars, he travelled to Bordeaux intent on painting the grape harvest. Living with the Cabareuss family in the claret country of the upper Medoc, he found the countryside 'detestable; it is literally a sea of vines extending every way to the horizon'. 'The Vintage', for which some of his 1817 sketches were used, was the result of a second visit in 1846. Vernon acquired the picture after its exhibition in 1848.

September 2004