Arthur Hacker was perhaps the most versatile of late Victorian artists and his regular and popular exhibits at the Royal Academy and New Gallery include paintings of contemporary drama, mythological and Biblical narrative, landscapes and still lifes. He also established a lucrative portrait painting practice in the early twentieth century, among his sitters being the artists Frank Short, Onslow Ford, William Goscombe John and Ernest Newton. As the son of a line engraver it is perhaps surprising that he did not undertake many commissions for book illustration and devoted his artistic output to oil paintings, often on a large scale. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1876 and graduated in 1880 whereupon he travelled to Paris and trained in the atelier of Léon Bonnat. One of his fellow pupils was Stanhope Forbes and like Forbes Hacker was much influenced by French art. His painting of French peasant life Her Daughter's Legacy attracted much attention at the Royal Academy in 1881. In 1886 Hacker helped to found the progressive New English Art Club, an association which appears rather contrary to the academic ideals expressed in the picture he exhibited at the Academy a year later, Pelagia and Philammon (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool). Other pictures in a similar High Victorian vein include, The Temptation of Sir Percival of 1894 (Leeds City Art Gallery), The Cloister of the World of 1897 (Cartwright Hall Art Gallery and Museum), And There was a Great Cry in Egypt of 1897 (private collection). These paintings made Hacker famous and popular in the 1890s but as the taste for grand subject pictures began to wain in the twentieth century, he concentrated upon portraiture and modern genre subjects.
The present picture was painted in the same year as In Jeopardy (sold in these rooms, 8 June 1993, lot 63) which was exhibited at the New Gallery Summer Exhibition of 1902. In Jeopardy probably depicts the same model on a river bank radiant with yellow flowering marsh blooms, vainly attempting to retrieve her doomed parasol before it sinks into the murky depths. Hacker had a particular fondness for painting women walking through meadows in springtime, the best-known being The Drone exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1899. A similar subject and colouring can be found in Imprisoned Spring of 1911 (sold in these rooms 19 March 2003, lot 279) in which a young girl is gazing longingly out of a window to a sunlit garden.
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