Monday, May 4, 2020

"Hard Act to Follow"

9 x 12"
oil on panel

I spotted this painting on Instagram and recognized it as one of the popular prints I used to frame for customers back in the day.  People commonly referred to it as "the goose girl", its real title is To Pastures New by Sir James Guthrie.  The painting has traveled all over the globe but does reside at the Aberdeen Art Museum in the UK.

James Guthrie was a Scottish painter during the late 1800's - early 1900's, during the Victorian era and what is called the Gilded Age.  The wealthy commissioned portrait artists - think John Singer Sargent and others, including Guthrie, to paint large, elaborate portraits of their patriarchs, wives and children to adorn their mansion walls.  It was all the craze.

The young group of Scottish artists, the Glasgow Boys, who Guthrie was associated with, considered themselves rebellious, rejecting the older generation of artists and declared themselves to be anti-establishment.  Other groups, like the union of newspaper illustrators with members such as Winslow Homer, grew tired of the upper crust being depicted in popular art and felt the need to portray the working class and African-Americans who were experiencing prolonged lives of enslavement during Reconstruction.  They felt an obligation to show their dignity and contributions despite their suppression.

To Pastures New is a perfect example of Guthrie's commitment and sense of pride painting directly from nature and his surroundings in Scotland, portraying a young, hard-working peasant girl filling the canvas like a giant shepherding her animals through the field on a normal workday.  

Please click here for a larger view.