John Crome

Mousehold Heath, Norwich

c.1818–20

In Tate Britain

Artist
John Crome 1768–1821
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 1099 x 1810 mm
frame: 1500 x 2210 x 150 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1863
Reference
N00689

Display caption

Mousehold Heath was a well–known stretch of common land that rose above the city of Norwich. Crome’s painting emphasises its expanse and lack of cultivation. Wild flowers grow, cattle roam freely and the rolling hills seem unending. Yet, the heath’s recent history had been turbulent. Much of the British countryside was being transformed by the enclosure of common lands and the ploughing of heath to boost agricultural return. By 1814 the bulk of Mousehold Heath was closed off. This wholesale change in land use impacted the rural poor the most as they lost a place to farm and pasture their animals.

Gallery label, October 2019

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