It would have been a sight familiar to Davidson and in the present painting she depicts three men with a horse and cart going about their work. Heavily influenced by the various styles found in Paris and across the continent during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, Lilian Davidson regularly depicted scenes of native traditions found across Ireland, often including the varied landscapes of her country. During the eighteenth century in Ireland, any form of landscape painting tended to be an extension of portrait painting; depicting wealthy landowners exhibiting their property and land. However, by the following century landscape painting had become a genre in its own right due to the increasing interest in the idea of the picturesque, and by the time Davidson was working, a much more naturalistic approach was taken and precedence given to the rural people working the land. In France, paintings such as Jean-Francois Millet's The Gleaners (1857, Musée d'Orsay) and Jules-Bastien Lepage's Haymaking (1877, Musée d'Orsay) were critical in influencing this new direction at the close of the 19th century.
Born in 1879 in County Wicklow, Davidson first exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1914 and for the next 40 years exhibited 135 works, proving to be one of the most influential female Irish artists of her period. She was influenced by the early painting career of Jack B. Yeats and this is evident here in the delineated approach to the figures. Situating the three figures and horse and cart against the pale sky highlights their forms and strengthens their presence. In tonality, it also recalls the work of Nathaniel Hone and Paul Henry. Using soft, harmonious colours, punctuated with the orange-browns of the kelp and the blue of the cart, it creates a highly atmospheric work which stands as a striking visual record of a tradition now passed.
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