Thomas Webster

A Letter from the Colonies

1852

Not on display
Artist
Thomas Webster 1800–1886
Medium
Oil paint on wood
Dimensions
Support: 413 x 521 mm
frame: 651 x 755 x 70 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1955
Reference
T00046

Display caption

Webster's popularity during his lifetime rested upon his pictures of scenes from contemporary cottage and ale-house life. His view of rustic life was more refined than that of the seventeenth-century Dutch masters who inspired him. However, he frequently set his figures in interiors where the main source of light is an open window. This is a device often found in Dutch genre pictures. The theme of this picture was inspired by the great emigration boom of the late 1840s and early 1850s. A family studies the envelope of a letter from a friend or relation who has emigrated. They are clearly worried about what the letter might contain.

Gallery label, August 2004

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