This is almost certainly The Solitary Turf Gatherer, a picture that Henry first exhibited in Belfast in March 1918. It is one of several compositions depicting the same figure bent in toil.
Speaking of another of these works, The Turf Gatherer, which was exhibited in 1913, the Northern Whig commented (17 February 1913) in words that apply equally here. The 'woman bowed under the weight of a mighty creel of shining dark sods,' it said, with her red skirt 'adds a note of unconscious irony to a figure that has something classic in its tragic dignity, and the composition sums up in a striking conception the burden of monotonous labour that those who weave rustic pastorals forget is the greatest factor in the life of the tiller of the soil'. And it went on, noting perceptively that 'Mr. Henry states a fact, that he does not frame an indictment, and his pictures are never proclamations about social problems'.
The setting is probably the high ground immediately to the west of the village of Keel, Achill Island, with Trawmore Strand in the background and the Menawn Cliffs in the distance.
The present work will be included in Dr Brian Kennedy's forthcoming catalogue raisonné, listed under the provisional number 1077.
We are very grateful to Dr Brian Kennedy for providing the catalogue entry for this lot.