Thomas Hovenden, Calvary Monument, France

Date
unknown
Medium
Graphite on paper
Credit Line
Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Mr. Stiles Tuttle Colwill, 2018
Dimensions
9 3/8 in. x 8 1/8 in.
[Front]
This drawing by Thomas Hovenden depicts a calvary (calvaire in French), a religious monument representing the Crucifixion. Calvary sculptures are most typically found in northern France, including in the province of Brittany where Hovenden lived and painted for three years in the 1870s. Hovenden respected and admired the simple lifestyle of the Breton peasants. Some of his drawings and paintings—such as this one and his painting The Brittany Image Seller—included representations of their fervent Catholic beliefs.
 
The Breton calvary, like the one represented in Hovenden’s drawing, is distinct from others that simply depict the crucifix cross. Breton calvaries include three-dimensional figures, usually representing the Virgin Mary, the apostles, and saints, attending the Crucifixion itself.
 
[Back]
Study of a Seated Female, date unknown
Graphite on paper, 9 3/8 in. x 8 1/8 in.
Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Mr. Stiles Tuttle Colwill, 2018
 
This small sketch of an old woman appears on the back of Thomas Hovenden’s drawing of a calvary monument in France. He likely made the drawing during his three years in the Breton village of Pont-Aven, where peasants willingly sat for his sketches. The Breton peasants were fervently religious and led simple lives with traditional values. Hovenden admired their commitment and aimed to capture that quality in his Breton drawings.
 
This seated woman is drawn only from the waist up. Her hair is pulled back into a low bun that sits at the nape of her neck. Her eyes, the wrinkles along her nose, and her slightly frowning mouth are darkly rendered. The only details on her long-sleeved dress are two lines running parallel down the length of her chest, suggesting a ruffle or the opening of a jacket.
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