The Rival Grandfathers

Field Handmaiden: Brabant

George H. Broughton, A.R.A..

Oil on canvas

Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1884

Source: Magazine of Art, which comments that Mr. Boughton's chief Academy work Field Handmaiden: Brabant . . .is instinct with genuine and peculiar power. The Field Handmaiden, despite her designation, is a robust toiler, untouched by any of the idealism with which the subject has long been invested. She is depicted in all the vigour of rude health; her stride expresses her native energy, her bearing the unconstrained freedom of nature. In relation to the landscape the treatment of the figure is thoroughly expressive of modernism; it is of first importance in the' composition, but the landscape may not be dissociated from it. The figure is presented by the artist uninfluenced by any preconceptions and unendowed with spurious sentiment; uncompromising fidelity to nature is its chief characteristic, and in this instance the peculiarly modern faith in the power of a merely literal transcript of nature to awaken thought and feeling has suffered no betrayal. The impressiveness of such work depends greatly upon the imaginative capacity of those to whom it appeals, a truth that Wordsworth repeatedly illustrated in his poetry. In Mr. Boughton's picture the impression is not transitory, but deepens on consideration, as the horizon of comprehension extends.” [397]