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Oil painting - The Hay Field
  • The Hay Field
    Armstrong, Thomas, born 1832 - died 1911
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The Hay Field

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    England (painted)

  • Date:

    1869 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Armstrong, Thomas, born 1832 - died 1911 (painters (artists))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mrs Ellen Coltart

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Stair L

Thomas Armstrong (1832-1911) undertook his early training as a painter in Paris. While studying at the studio of Ary Scheffer, he spent the evenings at the famous Académie Suisse. In 1854 he also spent time in the artists' colony at Barbizon, where he made the acquaintance of Millet. After a brief period of study in Antwerp, Armstrong returned to Paris where he began life-long friendships with George Du Maurier, Edward John Poynter and James Whistler. In 1860 he returned to London where he continued to work as a painter until 1881 when he was appointed Director of the Art Division of the Department of Science and Art, based at the South Kensington Museum. This role gave him responsibility for the organisation and supervision of art education throughout Britain.

This painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1869 and is typical of the work produced by Armstrong in the 1860's. His early work focused on themes of social deprivation but in 1860 he joined the circle of painters associated with the emergent Aesthetic Movement. Like artists such as Myles Birkett Foster, Armstrong here romanticises rural life and the female agricultural labourer to create a harmonious figurative picture. His languid beauties invoke a Classical and 'Aesthetic' ideal - the three Graces perhaps - disposed in a frieze-like composition, and dressed in Greek-style costumes with ribbon-bound hair. The colours and the mood of the picture are close to Pre-Raphaelite painting, and the women themselves recall the figures in the pseudo-classical fantasies of Albert Moore or Alma-Tadema.

Physical description

Three women stand in a garden flanked on either side by haystacks. In the back ground are a series of trees and two buildings - what appears to be a red-brick house standing behind a smaller white out-building. A full moon appears over the trees. The woman to the left wears a white dress with decorative, dusky pink, circular motifs. She holds a baby in her arms. The baby wears a white robe with pink ribbon at the waist, it wears shoes of the same shade of pink, one of which lies on the floor by the hem of the woman's dress. The other two women stand together to the right of the image - the one to the left stands with her back to the viewer and wears a plain white dress with a peach coloured shawl, the one to the right wears a dusky pink dress. Both these women hold a rake in their hands. An iron gate, painted blue, occurs at the right edge of the canvas, as does a medieval-style settle with what looks like a cloak draped across it. The white building has ivy cascading down from its top and a row of purple foxgloves at its base.

Place of Origin

England (painted)


1869 (painted)


Armstrong, Thomas, born 1832 - died 1911 (painters (artists))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

signed with monogram


Height: 156 cm, Width: 189 cm, Height: 1263 mm, Width: 1575 mm, Depth: 75 mm frame, Depth: 27 mm

Object history note

Bequeathed by Mrs Ellen Coltart, 1917

Descriptive line

Oil painting on canvas entitled 'The Hay Field' by Thomas Armstrong. Great Britain, 1869.


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Foxglove; Gate; Rake; Settle; Haystack; Baby; Costume; Moon




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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