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Record Image
Greenaway, Kate (English, b.1846, d.1901), Artist
Haymaking's End
70 x 270 mm
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Given in the 1950s by Archdeacon F H D Smythe.
Kate Greenaway was one of three great Victorian illustrators of children’s books, with Walter Crane (1845–1915) and Randolph Caldecott (1846–1886), though she is perhaps now the best known. Her first books were runaway successes that inspired a host of imitators, who applied her imagery widely, creating a style of nursery decoration that still exists.
The secret of Greenaway’s success was a simplified composition married to telling detail, in a world where children in Georgian costume play among cottages and gardens. She also produced gallery pieces that now seem cloying and sentimental, but she has few equals as an illustrator who could communicate effectively with children.
This work, though, is unusual. Its boldly elongated format sets the scene not for childish gambols but a modest, rural bacchanal. These are young adults carousing: they have tambourines, fiddles, horns. Jugs are lifted cheerily as youths, male and female, relax among the hay.
Greenaway was supported by the great critic John Ruskin (1819–1900). She fell in love with him but the feeling was not returned.

not on view

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