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During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the hop gardens of Kent, Sussex and Surrey provided artists with a rich source of subject matter. The picking season, when many families migrated from London for paid employment and fresh air, was a modest English equivalent of the more exotic French and Italian grape harvest or vintage. Witherington was a popular painter of scenes from rural life. He painted several works inspired by the picturesque sights of hop-pickers at work and at play. Here he shows young workers at rest while they garland a younger companion with the yellow hop flowers. A writer in the 'Art Journal' thought this was Witherington's best picture.

August 2004