Artwork by Wyatt Eaton,  La Moisson (The Harvest)

Wyatt Eaton
La Moisson (The Harvest)

signed and dated 1884 lower left
11.5 x 15.75 ins ( 29.2 x 40 cms ) ( sight )

Auction Estimate: $12,000.00$10,000.00 - $12,000.00

Price Realized $11,400.00
Sale date: November 22nd 2021

Victoria Art Gallery, Toronto
Private Collection, Toronto
Barry Lord, “The History of Painting in Canada: Towards a People’s Art”, 1974, pages 105-106 (the related canvas, “The Harvest Field (Noon-day Rest)”, reproduced on page 106)
Jacques Des Rochers, “Quebec and Canadian Art: The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts”, Volume 1, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, page 114
Wyatt Eaton’s artistic oeuvre was heavily influenced by his studies at the École des beaux-arts in Paris in 1872, where he encountered Jean-François Millet and the Barbizon painters. The Barbizon school of painters were active roughly from 1830 to 1870 and believed in social realism in art - that the common worker was a noble subject who should be represented. The art of identifying the plight of ordinary people was the “very basis of academic genre painting as it was then being promoted in Paris,” explains Barry Lord.

In 1883 Eaton returned to France, spending time among the peasants of the Barbizon area and lived in the same village as the influential Millet. After this inspiring sojourn Eaton painted “The Harvest Field (Noon-day Rest)” of 1884. This canvas personified Millet’s fatalism about “the peasant’s lot.” Eaton has depicted a farming family as the main subject during the harvest. A woman rests from her labours with a child napping in her lap while her husband toils away in the field behind. The woman’s face is serious, cast in shadow and turned away from the warm sun. This woman recognizes that her young son must grow up to take the place of her husband in the fields - one generation replacing another. “La Moisson (The Harvest)” is a well-executed study for the canvas, exuding warmth, sentimentality, exhaustion and Eaton’s skill in draughtsmanship. Laurier Lacroix remarks that when executing The Harvest, “Eaton evoked the mother as a nourishing earth, in the manner of Jean- François Millet.”

R.B. Angus, President of the Bank of Montreal and CPR millionaire racketeer, recognized the gravity of “The Harvest (Noon-Day Rest)”. When he purchased the work in 1889 for the Art Association of Montreal (now the MMFA), this helped to solidify Eaton’s career. The influence of the Barbizon school is manifest in Eaton’s art, as he proceeded to focus on the economic reality of rural life.
“La Moisson (The Harvest)” is a well-executed study for the canvas in the collection of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, exuding warmth,sentimentality and Eaton’s skill in draughtsmanship. The gravity of this work was astutely recognized by collectors, selling for $11,400 at the Fall 2021 Live Auction, achieving an auction record for the Barbizon school painter.

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Wyatt Eaton
(1849 - 1896)