The Man with the Scythe by Henry Herbert La Thangue (1859-1929). Exhibited 1896. Oil paint on canvas. Support: 1676 x 1664 mm / frame: 1990 x 1975 x 165 mm. Tate Gallery. Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest in 1896. Reference N01605 1903. Oil on canvas, 131 x 147 cm. Kindly released by the Tate Gallery on the Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported) license. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

The Man with the Scythe is a desperately sad painting in which a child lies limp and still on a chair outside a thatched cottage, and a woman, most probably her mother, bends over her with obvious anxiety. She holds something in her apron, as if she has just now been busy picking apples or doing something similar. Behind the gate at the right is the dim figure of a countryman with a great scythe over his shoulder, its black blade curving inwards. Perhaps the symbolism is heavy-handed but the painting is still very affecting, especially because of the contrast between the white pillow and the child's white dress, and the shadows all around. — Jacqueline Banerjee

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Created 31 May 2018