Description: A woodcutter and his daughter
signed and dated 'ARTHUR HACKER 1892' (lower left)
oil on canvas
40 1/2 x 50 1/2 in. (102.8 x 128.3 cm.)
Artist or Maker: Arthur Hacker, R.A. (1858-1919)
Notes: According to the Art Journal in 1897, Hacker was 'possessed with a similar spirit to that of Mr Dicksee in endeavouring to avoid the danger of painting in a single groove'. The son of line engraver Edward Hacker, Arthur studied at the Royal Academy and then under Leon Bonnat in Paris where, like his friend Stanhope Forbes, he absorbed the tenets of French realism. A woodcutter and his daughter pays clear tribute to French plein air traditions: precepts adopted by the New English Art Club, which Hacker had helped found six years earlier.
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However, A woodcutter and his daughter is contemporary with The Annunciation (Tate Britain), purchased by the Chantrey Bequest in 1892. A whimsical depiction of Mary being presented with a lily by Gabriel, it betrays an almost Art Nouveau fluidity of design. A series of similar works followed, some of Symbolist bent, but Hacker also continued to produce domestic genre.
Hacker introduces an emotive core to these quiet domestic scenes. Each gesture provides a potential link within the story. In A woodcutter and his daughter the father is both tender and tutelary. The little girl holds an apple as well as faggots, presumably a treat in waiting, and she has adorned her hair with a single red flower. The red accent is echoed by the poppies against the cottage wall and the cloth strip around the woodcutter's arm. This is typical of Hacker, who masterminded his colour schemes with the same care as his pictures' narrative content.
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