George Robert Lewis

Harvest Field with Gleaners, Haywood, Herefordshire


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Not on display

George Robert Lewis 1782–1871
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 143 × 195 mm
frame: 226 × 277 × 61 mm
Purchased 1981

Display caption

Some early nineteenth century painters like Lewis largely discarded the pictorial formulas of the older generation. Instead they explored a more naturalistic and experimental approach. The apparent truthfulness of their views contributed to the creation of a kind national identity that was meant to belong to everyone, not just people who owned land.

During war with France, agricultural productivity became a genuinely national issue. In this picture Lewis had given particular attention to the details of agricultural work: the field has been reaped and sheaves of wheat have been gathered and stacked to dry.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry



Inscribed ‘Dynedor Hill Herefordshire/George Robert Lewis/[?B]’ on the stretcher
Oil on canvas, 5 1/2 × 7 11/16 (14.3 × 19.5)
Purchased from Jacquetta Pease (Grant-in-Aid) 1981
Prov: ...; Sir Thomas Lane Devitt, Bt (1839–1923); his grandson, Peter K. Devitt; his daughter, Mrs Jacquetta Pease.
Exh: Society of Painters in Oil and Water Colours, 1816 (?136: see text below).

Both these paintings [T03234 and T03235] depict harvesting in fields at Haywood, a few miles south-west of Hereford. The view in each is roughly eastwards, looking towards Dinedor (or Dynedor, as Lewis spelt it) Hill, which lies to the south-east of Hereford. Lewis appears to have spent some time here in the summer of 1815. At the Society of Painters in Oil and Water Colours in April of the following year he exhibited twelve small oils and two larger ones depicting views in the area. The larger canvases are Tate Gallery N02960, ‘Hereford, from the Haywood, Noon’ and N02961, ‘Hereford, Dynedor, and Malvern Hills, from the Haywood Lodge, Harvest Scene, Afternoon’. The smaller exhibits were grouped three to a frame and, like the two larger works, were described in the catalogue as ‘Painted on the Spot’. T03234 and T03235 come from the collection of Sir Thomas Lane Devitt, whose descendants still own a third harvest scene similar in size and character to the other two. Together they may have made up one of the frames of small works shown by Lewis in 1816, the most likely one being no.136, ‘A Frame containing Three Subjects. The first, Dynedor and Malvern Hills, Noon. The second, Dynedor and Malvern Hills, Morning. The third, Dynedor Hill, Noon. Painted on the Spot.’

Judging from the disposition of the middle-distance trees, the reapers in T03235 may be working in the lower part of the principal field seen in the larger ‘Harvest Scene’, Tate Gallery N02961. In the latter the corn in this part of the field is shown already standing in sheaves. The topography of T03234 is more difficult to relate to the ‘Harvest Scene’, despite the similarity between the pair of tall trees seen in each.

Lewis' early career as a landscape painter (from 1820 he was primarily a portraitist) is poorly documented and we do not know, for example, why he chose to work in the area of Haywood in 1815. The five Herefordshire scenes mentioned in this entry, four of them now in the Tate Gallery, appear to be his only surviving landscapes in oil from this period. Lewis returned to the area in later years, publishing a pamphlet at Hereford on education in 1838 and making studies of Kilpeck church which were published in 1842.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984

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