The Mower is Thornycroft's celebration the pensive and natural energy in man and is believed to be the first representation in British sculpture of a labourer in working attire. Turning to the paintings of Millet and the sculpture of Meunier, Thornycroft found inspiration in the movements of the everyday man and the model has consequently been linked to the ‘naturalism’ movement.The composition was inspired by a boat trip made by Thornycroft in 1882, when he observed a mower resting on the banks of the Thames. The Italian Orazio Cervi posed for the model the following year.
The plaster 'sketch' model of the The Mower was first exhibited at the 1884 Royal Academy and in the following years the artist continued to perseverate on this theme. One can follow the evolution of the artist's process for in the 1884 model the figure is wearing a shirt, holds up his other arm from the present example, and the scythe is turned upright. It is believed the artist completed the model for the present lot in clay in 1888, as marked on the present bronze, and later casting this 23 in. model with the lost-wax method beginning in 1890. That same year a bronze cast was exhibited at the Royal Academy (no. 2021). The edition appears to have been limited to 25 casts (E. Manning, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 1982, p.190). Another example of this size model is in the collection of the Tate, London (inv. T03963).