Thomas Hovenden, Study for “A Breton Interior”

Graphite on paper
Credit Line
Gift of Mr. Stiles Tuttle Colwill, 2018

During the 1870s, when Thomas Hovenden was living and painting in Pont-Aven, he produced a number of historical paintings. One of these works, A Breton Interior, depicted a domestic scene at the time of the Wars of the Vendée, peasant uprisings during the French Revolution. Breton peasants, like the ones in this painting, were royalists who fought back against the revolutionaries. 

This is a study of a figure for A Breton Interior, a painting that shows a veteran Breton soldier sharpening his blade as his son, a military volunteer, looks over his shoulder. The focus of this study, however, is the veteran’s wife. She sits on the left-hand side of the painting with her young granddaughter, molding bullets over a charcoal flame. Hovenden appears to have been interested in the position of the seated woman, including the placement of her legs. Her position is different in the finished painting. 


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