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Sir George Clausen, R.A., R.W.S. (1852-1944)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION
Sir George Clausen, R.A., R.W.S. (1852-1944)

The Haymaker, a study in shadows

Sir George Clausen, R.A., R.W.S. (1852-1944)
The Haymaker, a study in shadows
signed 'G CLAUSEN' (lower left)
pastel, on buff paper
10½ x 7¾ in. (6.7 x 19.7 cm.)
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 17 November 2005, lot 183.
with Richard Green, London.
with Offer Waterman, London.
with Gilly Kinloch, Kent, where acquired by the present owner in November 2009.
Special Notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Lot Essay

The present drawing provides an exciting insight into Clausen's creative process. Around 1900 he worked on drawings of a haymaker standing in the shade in a pose loosely derived from Jean-François Millet. The painting, The Haymaker: A Study in Shadows (fig. 1, 1904, Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane) was finally completed in 1904 when it was presented to Hugh Lane for the collection he was forming on behalf of the city of Dublin.

Essentially a study of the head and hands of the figure, the drawing follows a long sequence of works of this type stretching back to the 1880s. The difference in this case came from the fact that although early in the realisation, the painter had produced a detailed graphite study of the girl (circa 1900, Holbourne Museum, Bath (XVII)), but he decided to reverse the composition. A figure that had been facing to the left, was turned to the right and re-drawn in the present fine pastel on buff paper. Clausen's sketchbooks on occasion show his reversing figures, sometimes using tracing paper and on other occasions repeating a heavily incised drawing on the reverse of the page. This pastel more than the early drawing demonstrates the degree to which, at the turn of the twentieth-century, Clausen was preoccupied with the flickering movement of sunlight falling through trees (K. McConkey, George Clausen and the Picture of English Rural Life, Glasgow, 2012, pp. 120, 117, illustrated in colour). He had observed fieldworkers on hot days resting in the shade and was fascinated by the effect. In 1904 when he showed Gleaners Coming Home (Tate Britain) at the Royal Academy, the sense of movement in light and air under a canopy of foliage was paramount. He was fond of quoting Manet's dictum that 'in a picture the principal person is the light' and when asked about this in 1905 he declared, 'the difficulty of painting in the open air is this, that the principal person is always moving. You see a beautiful effect of light one day, perhaps the next also, but then not again for another year' (J.M. Gibbon, 'Painters of the Light: An Interview with George Clausen ARA', Black and White, 8 July 1905, p. 42).

Clausen's way of tackling this problem was to work rapidly with pastel - a medium he had first briefly experimented with in 1884. Its full impact on his oil painting only became evident in the 1890s as he moved from the Naturalism of Bastien-Lepage to Impressionism. As is clear from the present example, the richness of colour that could be achieved with pastel was its principal asset. Not only could it be smudged, smoothed and layered, but form, continuous and solid, could be broken into multi-coloured surface patches with remarkable results - 'studies' as here, in essence, quickly became finished works.


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