At the outbreak of the Second World War, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant moved back to their countryside home, Charleston, permanently.

Agricultural activity abounded around them at Charleston, and Duncan and Vanessa sketched, drew and painted its manifestations. Numerous sketchbooks held at Charleston are filled with studies of the farm, from barns and sheep to cattle and chickens. This continual stream of inspiration upon their doorstep, evolving and shifting with each season, was one they turned into an artistic gift - and the present work is a notably successful and descriptive example.

Sheep farming was the main agricultural activity in the area and Duncan has subtly elevated a prosaic subject with artistic distinction. The sheep are naturalistically choreographed to create a composition of rhythm and balance. Repetitive daubs of paint reflect the tactile, rustic surfaces. Delighting in, and no doubt emphasising the russet and blue hues of the roof, and the patterned flint wall beneath, an otherwise...

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At the outbreak of the Second World War, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant moved back to their countryside home, Charleston, permanently.

Agricultural activity abounded around them at Charleston, and Duncan and Vanessa sketched, drew and painted its manifestations. Numerous sketchbooks held at Charleston are filled with studies of the farm, from barns and sheep to cattle and chickens. This continual stream of inspiration upon their doorstep, evolving and shifting with each season, was one they turned into an artistic gift - and the present work is a notably successful and descriptive example.

Sheep farming was the main agricultural activity in the area and Duncan has subtly elevated a prosaic subject with artistic distinction. The sheep are naturalistically choreographed to create a composition of rhythm and balance. Repetitive daubs of paint reflect the tactile, rustic surfaces. Delighting in, and no doubt emphasising the russet and blue hues of the roof, and the patterned flint wall beneath, an otherwise unwieldy composition is marshalled into a work of highly satisfying agricultural genre.

The lambs present in the foreground suggest that this painting was likely begun in the spring of 1942.

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500 Years of British Art