Thomas Hovenden, Study of a Breton Man

Graphite on paper
Credit Line
Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Mr. Stiles Tuttle Colwill, 2018
17 1/2 in. x 11 in.

When Thomas Hovenden left Paris to join Robert Wylie’s painters’ colony in Pont-Aven in the 1870s, he was following in the tradition of artists who sought out the simple life of the Breton peasants. A two-day train ride from Paris, Pont-Aven was far removed from the rise of urbanism during the Industrial Revolution. The picturesque village appealed to those seeking to capture the “rustic genre.”

While other painters of provincial scenes, like Jean-François Millet and Gustave Courbet, depicted people in agricultural and religious settings, Hovenden was drawn to the peasants’ daily lives. This simple figure study shows Hovenden’s interest in capturing the Bretons’ authentic, traditional way of life.

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