Farming has always played a major roll in shaping the countryside landscape and artists have sought to capture both everyday scenes and idyllic images of what it means to be a farmer and work the land.
Paintings of farms and farmers first came to the fore during the realist movement when artist choose to paint the real world around them rather than portraits of the rich and powerful.
For the first time in history the hard life of the working farmer was captured on canvas, immortalized forever.
Famous Farmer Paintings
1. American Gothic – Grant Wood
Two sombre individuals appear in front of a humble home in Grant Wood’s painting American Gothic, which is considered one of the most iconic works of American art.
The painting, which was completed in 1930, is a stark reminder of the hardships that the people of the United States faced during the Great Depression of the 1920s.
It’s a fantastic piece of Social Realism painting. Wood’s picture depicts a distinctively constructed home with a Gothic-style architectural look, according to Wood.
From the faces and clothing of the man and lady in the front to the structure and its architectural design in the distance, this picture is rich in detail.
The capacity of this Social Realism painting to convey the American spirit in the early part of the twentieth century, when the hard life of farming was a lifeline for many in the United States.
The work exemplifies the diligent American spirit in which the people of the nation took great pride. Wood’s work became an instant classic and one of the most recognizable works of art in American society.
2. Farmer with a Pitch – Winslow Homer
Winslow Homer’s painting garnered early fame with his acclaimed 1860s works, notably for his representations of the Civil War and rural American life. Homer’s art shifted almost entirely to agricultural or farm based and to coastal scenes in the 1870s.
The works from this period, which depict young Americans engaged in both leisurely activities and manual labor in the rural countryside, have come to be regarded as quintessential Homer subjects.
They demonstrate the artist’s innate and sophisticated handling of color and light, but also because they transcend simple images of people at work and play to represent the human condition in the years following the Civil War.
3. Farmhouse in Provence – Vincent van Gogh
Van Gogh traveled to France’s Provence area in order to hone his painting skills and experience. Van Gogh used multiple complimentary color combinations in The Farmhouse in Provence, the color contrast adding emphasis to his painting. The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. now owns the picture.
Van Gogh utilized three pairings of complimentary, or opposing, hues that enhanced the brightness and intensity of one an-other’s colors when paired together. Orange and blue are the colors of one pair. Another example would be the plants’ red and green hues. Last but not least, pink clouds against a turquoise sky.
Van Gogh employed complimentary, contrasting hues to give his work an intensity that grew throughout the course of his career.
When two complimentary hues with the same degree of vividness and brightness are juxtaposed, a powerful response occurs, referred to as the “law of simultaneous contrast.”
4. The Farmer’s Wife and the Raven – George Stubbs
George Stubbs was born in Liverpool in 1724. He is well known for his paintings of horses. He would go on to become the greatest horse painter who ever lived.
He painted The Farmer’s Wife and the Raven in 1782, based on a story from John Gay’s Book of Fables. We observe a farmer’s wife riding her ancient white horse to the market in the artwork. Her eggs, which she plans to sell, are contained in the pannier baskets.
Blind Ball, her frail old horse, is frightened by the squawking of a raven perched high on a neighboring tree limb, causing it to slip and collapse. The eggs fall from the basket and lay shattered on the ground, their yellow yokes plainly visible.
This picture depicts a story about greed. The enormous farmer’s wife was unconcerned about her elderly horse’s condition, her mind focused on the earnings she would get from the selling of her eggs.
The English adored horses, and a picture depicting someone who mistreated their animal was a particularly popular topic for painters at the period.
5. Cider Making – William Sidney Mount
Cider Making is a picture by American artist William Sidney Mount from the mid-nineteenth century. The oil on canvas artwork illustrates the process of manufacturing cider at a Long Island cider mill. It is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
William Sidney Mount painted Cider Making in 1840 or 1841. Mount, a conservative democrat, was a vocal opponent of Andrew Jackson’s administration and his successor Martin Van Buren, whose political opponent William Henry Harrison often employed rural images to disparage the former. Additionally, Harrison’s Whig Party was often affiliated with cider manufacturers.
The artwork depicts a cider mill on Setauket, Long Island, which operated until the early twentieth century. Mount was paid $250 for the work.
6. A Farmyard in Normandy – Claude Monet
Claude Monet’s “Farmyard in Normandy” is one of his first works. During his early years as an artist, Monet painted an astonishingly tiny number of works.
By studying the masters of previous generations, Monet learnt to begin with a rapid sketch and then finish the painting using paint patches and dabs to produce a finished work that accurately depicted the landscape.
This picture was created when he was twenty-three years old, the year after he completed his military duty.
This is before he would develop the impressionist style of painting for which his name has become synonymous with.
7. Haymakers – George Stubbs
As discussed above Stubbs was famous for his realistic horse paintings but he did also captured rural scenes in particular work on the farm.
During this era, picturesque country topics were popular, as shown by Gainsborough, Wheatley, and Morland, as well as a number of the many illustrators of Thomson’s Seasons.
Stubbs’s Haymakers is comparable to Thomas Hearne’s oval picture on the same subject, A Landscape and Figures from Thomson’s Seasons of 1783.
Also Read: Famous Cow Paintings
This shows that the two painters researched the same subject or that Stubbs appropriated Hearne’s ideas of the child halting in front of the haycart with her hayrake erect, the lady raking in hay, and the guy atop the cart.
He did in fact make several versions of this farm painting, with the earlier ones having fewer people and a slightly different background landscape.
8. Farmhouse In A Wheat Field – Vincent van Gogh
Van Gogh used bright, unmixed colors to paint this farmhouse in a field near Arles (FR). This painting exemplifies the lessons he learnt in Paris. There he became acquainted with a number of emerging painting forms, including Impressionism and Pointillism.
He started painting his surroundings as soon as he landed in the southern city of Arles. He attempted to incorporate all he had learnt into his own style.
For example, he used a variety of brushstrokes, from bits and specks to broad strokes. The tree is the most obvious example of this approach in this artwork.
9. The Farm at Les Collettes, Cagnes – Pierre-Auguste Renoir
The Farm at Les Collettes, Cagnes is an oil on canvas painting by French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir from the early twentieth century. The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns the painting.
Renoir bought the estate of Les Collettes in Cagnes, near Nice, in 1907. He relocated there in the fall of 1908. The estate, with its charming farmhouse, olive and orange orchards, and vistas of the mountainous countryside, offered key inspirations for the artist’s later landscapes.
The picture represents Renoir’s property at Cagnes-sur-Mer on Southern France’s Mediterranean coast, where he was compelled to move in 1908 to help ease the affects of his rheumatoid arthritis. Although the picture depicts the old farmhouse, Renoir really resided in a freshly constructed home on the estate.
10. Haymaking – Winslow Homer
Winslow Homer, one of the nineteenth century’s finest Realist painters, is still one of America’s most well-known artists. During the Civil War, he took up oil painting after working as a freelance artist for periodicals such as Harper’s Weekly.
Haymaking exemplifies his exceptional ability to capture the brightness and purity of light.
Following years of national crises, this affluent and hale young farmer was a pleasant embodiment of America’s unwavering trust in peace and abundance, a figure who comforted viewers about the country’s future health and production.
Haymaking restored optimism to the war-ravaged nation by assuring viewers of the country’s future health and prosperity.
The image depicts a young guy with a pitch fork in a recently cut hayfield, perhaps flipping the hay over to speed up the drying process. The backdrop seems to be an apple orchard which would have been common on many farms at the time.