William Aiken Walker, born in Charleston, South Carolina and son of a prominent cotton agent, is best known for his portrayals of the South, particularly images of African Americans, cotton fields and plantations. During his time, Walker was an immensley successful artist selling his paintings to northern tourists, consigning works to local galleries, gift shops and photography studios. Walker's reputation was additionally furthered by the publication of two lithographs, The Levee at New Orleans (1883) and Southern Cotton Plantation (1884) by Currier and Ives.
Primarily a self taught artist, Walker studied in Dusseldorf during the 1860s. Walker was also early in his career a cartographer and draftmans duing the Civil War. Walker's passionate interest in genre and meticulous attention to detail were skills clearly influenced by his Dusseldorf years and experience in the army. Noon Day Pause in the Cotton Field depicts a farm family pausing along side a cotton field with their wagon, wheels coated in mud, loaded with cotton bails and sundry wares either going to or coming from market. In the distance, Walker portrays a cotton gin and various farm buildings in differing stages of disrepair. The present work, Noon Day Pause in the Cotton Field, poignantly illustrates Walker's success as an artist.
This painting will be included in John Fowler's forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work.