Thomas Hovenden, Study for Brittany Peasant
This study for the painting What O’Clock Is It? depicts a young Brittany peasant girl blowing the seeds off a dandelion. Thomas Hovenden completed the study and the painting during his three years in Pont-Aven, France.
The title refers to the nineteenth-century name given to the golden wildflowers surrounding the girl in the picture. They were called “What’s O’Clock” because they opened early in the morning and closed late in the evening, making it possible to tell the time of day by the appearance of their petals.
Hovenden’s finished work hung in the National Academy of Design’s spring exhibition in 1879. His patron, John W. McCoy, who financed the artist’s years in France, found the bucolic theme of the painting “charming . . . an idyllic fancy that I should think you could give great truth and sweetness to.”