Thomas Hovenden, Study for "The Village Blacksmith"

Graphite on paper
Credit Line
Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Mr. Stiles Tuttle Colwill, 2018
15 ¼ in. x 8 ¼ in.

Thomas Hovenden made several drawings of the model for his painting The Village Blacksmith. This one shows the position Hovenden eventually settled on for the figure in the final work. The blacksmith, for whom the model was Hovenden’s local blacksmith in Plymouth Meeting, stands with one hand on his hip and the other grasping tongs over a smoky flame. 

Just as Hovenden elevated the Breton peasant in his work in Pont-Aven, he imbued this admirable figure with heroic dignity. Like the Breton peasant, the blacksmith’s livelihood was directly threatened by imminent mechanization. 

The National Academy of Design exhibited The Village Blacksmith in 1883. One critic pronounced it the “one picture in the exhibition before which the visitor mentally takes off his hat.”

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