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Laborers Harvesting Bath Stone

Benjamin Barker was a landscape artist who worked in the vicinity of Bath, a fashionable spa town in southwest England. This painting focuses on a picturesque subject—a group of peasants quarrying stone near a wooded pool. In the late eighteenth century, the “picturesque” was an important aesthetic concept. Landscapes defined as picturesque were characterized by irregular, asymmetrical compositions, and often depicted traditional ways of life that were beginning to vanish with the onset of the Industrial Revolution. Additionally, the pictorial structure and palette of this painting evoke the manner of seventeenth-century Dutch landscape painting, a genre avidly collected in Britain during Barker’s lifetime.

Attributed to Benjamin Barker, the younger
English, 1776‒1838
Laborers Harvesting Bath Stone
ca. 1800
Oil on canvas
42 x 47 1/8 in. (106.7 x 119.7 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Museum purchase with funds from the estate of Herman B Wells via the Joseph Granville and Anna Bernice Wells Memorial Fund, 2015.2