Tate Britain

William Stott of Oldham: Le Passeur (The Ferryman) 1 May – Winter 2017

Main Floor

William Stott of Oldham Le Passeur (The Ferryman) 1881 Tate Photo © Tate

Purchased with funds provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation) and The Hintze Family Charitable Foundation 2016.

This Spotlight marks the recent acquisition of William Stott’s Le Passeur, widely regarded as the crowning achievement of the artist’s short career

William Stott (1857–1900) was a leading figure among the group of British artists influenced by French naturalism in the closing decades of the nineteenth century. After Manchester School of Art he trained in Paris and exhibited several works at the Paris Salon. Chief among these was Le Passeur which established Stott’s international reputation. He painted it in the late summer of 1881 at the village of Grez-sur-Loing, near Fontainebleau in France which had become a centre for artists from across Europe and America. With its decorative surface effects and enigmatic stillness, the painting came to influence the style and subject matter adopted by other British artists who worked in rural communities, including the Scot, Arthur Melville, whose equally ambitious Audrey and her Goats has been specially conserved for this display.

Le Passeur’s poetic naturalism informed the work of the anti-establishment Glasgow Boys or Scottish impressionists and ‘modern realists’ such as George Clausen. Like Stott, these painters specialised in rustic scenes with symbolist connotations, many of which also present young women rapt in contemplation.

Curated by Alison Smith

Le Passeur (The Ferryman) 1881 by William Stott of Oldham (1857–1900) has been secured for the British public through major gifts from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Family Foundation) and The Hintze Family Charitable Foundation. The painting will be displayed at Tate Britain until January 2018 and will then tour to four UK-partner galleries: Oriel y Parc, Southampton City Art Gallery, Gallery Oldham and Aberdeen Art Gallery, supported by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the John Ellerman Foundation and Art Fund.


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Teaching Resource

William Stott of Oldham William Stott’s 'Le Passeur' (The Ferryman) 1881

In this online resource, investigate the hidden symbolism in this painting and find out how life in a rural artist ...


Audio Description of Le Passeur by William Stott of Oldham

Listen to the audio description of Le Passeur by William Stott of Oldham

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