Edward Mitchell Bannister (American, 1828-1901)
Headed Home from Haymaking/ A Figure Study
Initialed "E. M. B." l.r.
Oil on board, 14 x 10 in. (35.6 x 25.4 cm), framed.
Condition: Board slightly warped, surface grime.
N.B. Following the American and French Barbizon schools to which he was ideologically and aesthetically affiliated, the genre of "peasant life" and the subject of the agricultural worker is a constant in Edward Mitchell Bannister's paintings and drawings. The figure depicted here, a dark-haired woman wearing a straw hat to protect her from the sun's glare and carrying a wooden rake, is returning from a long day of haymaking in the fields. On New England farms in the 19th century, there were strong gender boundaries between men's work (which included care of the horses and cattle, tillage crops, the use of edge tools and any activities requiring major physical strength) and that of their wives and daughters (comprising of the housekeeping and childrearing, running the dairy, the husbandry of smaller animals, gardening and sewing). The urgency of haymaking, however, meant that these labor divisions collapsed, and women routinely joined their men folk in gathering the stacks. The subject of haymaking was revisited by Bannister and can be seen in other extant and unlocated Bannister works, both preparatory sketches and finished pieces. These include The Hay Gatherers (private collection) and Loading Hay (collection of Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.). The model for this piece was most likely Annie S. Monroe (nee Jefferey) who posed regularly for Bannister during the 1880s.
This work will be included in Anne Louise Avery's forthcoming catalogue raisonne on the artist. We would like to thank her for her assistance with cataloging this lot.
The support has a subtle rippled quality, and the painting would benefit from cleaning. There is subtle fluorescence to some of the deep green and umber pigments.