Forthcoming

Clare Leighton (1898 - 1989)

The Reaper (BPL 221), 1933

SKU: 5467
Original woodblock.

Size:
Height – 8.8cm
Width – 6.9cm

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
Private Collection
Presentation:
framed

The Reaper (BPL 221) appears as the title page of one of Clare Leighton’s

most celebrated books, The Farmer’s Year: A Calendar of English

Husbandry (1933). From Lambing’ in January to The Fat Stock

Market’ in December, Leighton’s text and full page engravings provide a

remarkable account of English farming before the advent of agribusiness.

Clare would typically take several days to produce a wood engraving,

painstakingly carving the image with special tools strong enough to incise

into the end grain of the block, which was typically made of boxwood,

sufficiently hard to allow for a number of prints to be made before any

loss of sharpness.

This engraving shows the labourer setting out to reap the harvest of a

whole year’s varied travail, to cut and gather by hand what today requires

the use of fuel wrung from the bowels of the earth. His right hand holds

the tip of the blade to keep it from damage and from harming any

passer-by. His left keeps the scythe neatly balanced on his shoulder; from

his waist hangs a sharpening stone which he will need to use again and

again as the work proceeds.

In addition to the artist’s personal acquaintance with the scythe

(always loath to portray what she had not herself experienced, she

learnt to ….stroke the grasses to their death’) we can be sure that its

constructional details are accurate. This illustrates one of Clare Leighton’s

dearest principles; any criticism from a farm worker would have shamed

her profoundly.

Commentary by David Leighton, Clare Leighton’s nephew and artistic executor. He is author of Clare Leighton: The Growth and Shaping of an Artist-Writer (2009).

We are grateful to David Leighton, the artist’s nephew and artistic executor for assistance.

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THE ARTIST

Clare Leighton
Clare
Leighton
1898 - 1989

Clare Leighton attended the Brighton School of Art (1915), the Slade School of Fine Art (1921’23) and the Central School of Arts and Crafts. Despite her childhood nickname ‘The Bystander’, she became a hugely visible artist on both sides of the Atlantic, and her vast oeuvre includes engravings, paintings, bookplates, illustrations and stained glass. Her twelve plates for Wedgwood, New England Industries, 1952, are amongst her best-known work.

She exhibited with the SWE in London (1923) and at the 1934 Venice Biennale ‘ attaining full membership to the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers in the same year. She also made several tours of the United States, becoming a naturalised citizen in 1945. By the time of her death, Leighton had authored twelve books and made over 840 prints.

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The Reverend Hill Walks Away, BPL500, 1942
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Angels and Trumpets, The Vision Splendid, BPL 762 1965
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In the Beginning, BPL 716 1955
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Lopping, The Book of Proverbs, BPL 210 1933
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The Darking Thrush, Hardy Shepherds, (Thomas Hardy), BPL 774b 1965
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Singing, BPL 723 1957
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I went by the field (Psalms), BPL 667 1952
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Both Man & Bird & Beast, BPL 718 1955
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The Book of Ecclesiastics, BPL 669
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God’s Familiars, Earth is the Lord’s, Gods Familiar, BPL 764 1965
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Shells & Seaweed, BPL 680 1954
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Tulip Poplar Bud BPL 517 1942
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The Cello Player, BPL 722, circa 1957
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Scarecrow, BPL 548 1942
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Hog Killing, BPL 514 1942
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Cinnamon Fern, BPL 508 1942
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Hog Killing, 1942
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Whaling from the New England Industries, late 1940’s
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Farmer and Statue of Liberty, 1930’s
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Ship Wreck, BPL 696
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The Magic of Handling Earth (BPL 488), By Light of Sun, circa 1941
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Apple Butter (BPL 523), Top Potential
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Louisiana Pilgrimage (BPL 525), 1942
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Frontispiece Ellen… (BPL 564), 1944
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Cotton Picker (BPL 491), Cotton Frontispiece, 1942
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To Everything There Is a Season, Psalms (BPL 670)
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The Berry Picker (BPL 701)
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Cranberry Bogs (BPL 684),
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Watchers Of The Sky (BPL 719), 1955
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The Reaper (BPL 221), 1933
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Tobacco Growing, BPL614, 1949-50
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Farming, BPL609, 1949-50
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Maple Sugaring, BPL610, 1949-50
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Ice Cutting, BPL607, 1949-50
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Miller (BPL 497)
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Cod Fishing, BPL613, 1949-50