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Distress by Land, from James Thomson's poem, 'The Seasons' (1726-31)

Henry Thomson RA (London 1773 – Portsea 1843)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

circa 1804 - 1811 (exh at RA)

Materials

Oil on canvas

Measurements

2375 x 1454 mm (93 1/2 x 57 1/4 in)

Place of origin

England

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Collection

Stourhead, Wiltshire (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Stourhead, Wiltshire, South West, National Trust

NT 732137

Caption

This is a bleak scene of a young peasant girl in a bonnet protecting a child in her arms in a storm upon Salisbury Plain whilst another small boy shelters beneath her dramatically windswept cloak. The inclusion of Stonehenge, a local landmark to Stourhead in Wiltshire was in deference to Richard Colt Hoare’ s archaeological interests. It is inspired by lines from ‘Winter’ (1726), written shortly after the death of his mother from the first part of the poem, The Seasons (1730) by the Scottish playwright and poet, James Thomson (1770-1748) and adapted on the frame label: "...How sinks her Soul! What black Despair! What horror fills her heart! Far from the tract, and blest abode of man; While round her night resistless closes fast, And every tempest, howling o'er her head, Renders the savage wilderness more wild" The romantically ‘Gothic’ picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1811.

Summary

Oil painting on canvas, Distress by Land, from James Thomson's poem, 'The Seasons' (1726-31) by Henry Thomson RA (London 1773 -Portsea 1843), circa 1804. Exhibited at the Royal Academy 1811. A storm on Salisbury Plain, with Stonehenge in the background at the right. A girl in a cloak and bonnet protects a child in her arms; a small boy shelters beneath her windswept cloak. The scene illustrates James Thomson's poem The Seasons (1730), with Stonehenge included as a local landmark to Stourhead House, Wiltshire.

Provenance

Acquired by Sir Richard Colt Hoare, 2nd Bt (1758 – 1838) before 1822; given to the National Trust along with the house, its grounds, and the rest of the contents by Sir Henry Hugh Arthur Hoare, 6th Bt (1865 – 1947) in 1946

Credit line

Stourhead, The Hoare Collection (National Trust)

Marks and inscriptions

Recto, on tablet on frame: Lines from James Thomson's Seasons: "...How sinks her Soul! What black Despair! What horror fills her heart! Far from the tract, and blest abode of man; While round her night resistless closes fast, And every tempest, howling o'er her head, Renders the savage wilderness more wild"

Makers and roles

Henry Thomson RA (London 1773 – Portsea 1843), artist

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