The Resting Horseman
Oil on canvas
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides
This outdoor scene depicts peasants or tenant farmers, who oversaw the land for town-dwelling landlords. Their general well-being is shown not only in the woman’s smile and the boy’s affectionate gesture, but also the prominence of animals. The brass container balanced on the woman’s head presumably holds milk, a sign of prosperity when dairy products were rarely consumed by the rural poor. The horse would have been a valuable asset and a status symbol, since most farmers used only oxen or donkeys to work their land, thus underscoring the idyllic tenor of this pastoral genre scene.
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