Lot 4
  • 4

Emile Claus

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Emile Claus
  • The Haymakers
  • signed Emile Claus lower left; signed and inscribed Belgique / Flanders on the reverse
  • oil on canvas


Acquired by the family of the present owners circa the mid-20th century; thence by descent


Philadelphia, Exposition belge des Beaux-Arts à Philadelphie, no. 727 (a label on the reverse)
Tokyo, Marunouchi Gallery, 1989, no. 29
Oostende, PMMK Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Emile Claus, 1997, no. 23, illustrated in the catalogue (as Temps orageux)
Helmond, Kunsthal Museum, Constantin Meunier, 2017-18

Catalogue Note

The Haymakers exemplifies the Naturalism of Claus' work in the early 1880s, following his studies at the Antwerp Academy. Breaking defiantly with the academic method of his teacher Nicaise de Keyser, Claus wrote 'Je ne sais pas, je ne veux pas peindre les Grecs et Romains', firmly announcing his interest in capturing modern life above all else.  Reflecting the influence of French artists Jules Bastien-Lepage, Léon Lhermitte, and Jules Breton, the present work depicts the life of rural Flanders which inspired Claus throughout his career. Seen in a turning, almost sculptural pose, the girl raking hay marks an early appearance of a type often seen in the artist's work, while the young children taking shelter recall those standing on the riverbank in Un bateau qui passe of 1883.  

It was in the 1880s that Emile Claus established his artistic reputation, both locally and internationally, with a group of large format exhibition paintings. Beginning with Le Combat des coqs (private collection), these included Le vieux jardinier (Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain, Liège), and Le Pique-nique (Royal Collection, Brussels). More intimate in scale, Claus clearly intended the present work to be acquired by a private collector, although an old label on the verso suggests it was sent for an unidentified exhibition of Belgian Art in Philadelphia early in its history. 

The stormy sky in The Haymakers may have been intended as a veiled response to the Belgian artist Charles Verlat's artistically conservative remark against the new vogue for plein-airisme: 'What good is painting out of doors in a country where you can't go out without an overcoat or umbrella nine months out of twelve?' Both painter and farm workers will shortly be forced to take shelter by the unpredictable Flemish weather.