British Watercolours from the John Edward Taylor Collection in the Whitworth Art Gallery, 1973, p.8) to suggest either that Stubbs and Hearne studied the same scene, or that Stubbs borrowed from Hearne the images of the girl pausing in front of the haycart with her hayrake upright, the woman raking in hay and the man on top of the haycart.
Such borrowings by Stubbs from an exhibited picture by Hearne might partly explain why Stubbs did not choose to exhibit the 1783 versions of ‘Haymakers’ and ‘Reapers’; but in any case, Stubbs evidently realised that he could improve on the of his first versions of the subjects.
Paul Mellon KBE, The Trustees of the Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum and Bonhams, and with the help of donations from Thos. Arthur Rank Group, Rank Hovis Mc Dougall Ltd., Thomson Holidays, The Wolfson Foundation and countless members of the public, 1977. Caroline Victoria Jane Downer, The Red House, Carrog, near Corwen, Merionethshire, d.
Agnew & Sons Ltd., Associated Newspaper Group, BAT Industries, BSR Ltd., The Baring Foundation, The Chase Charity Trust, Mr. 24 December 1933; by descent to her nieces, Violet and Nancy Tombs; included in the sale of The Red House and its contents, Frank Owen, 13 July 1934 (? Alderman James Conrad Cross of Liverpool, sold 1934 to Spink and Son Ltd.; Leggatt Brothers, 1935; Captain Arnold Wills, by descent to Major John Lycett Wills, from whom purchased, through Leggatt Brothers and Oscar and Peter Johnson Ltd., by the Tate Gallery, 1977.
Certainly the enamel versions (noted below) are more closely related to the 1785 than to the 1783 pictures; and since the enamels (largely unsold in Stubbs's lifetime) were given star billing in his posthumous sale, it is not surprising to see the versions in oils described as ‘studies for the enamels’.
Even allowing for their darker colouring, the 1783 pictures now appear to be in less good condition than the 1785 pair, in which the purity of Stubbs's colours and the fastidious balance of his are fortunately well preserved.He reorganised his subject-matter to produce, in the 1785 versions, seemingly natural and unforced groupings which are in fact controlled by a masterly sense of design.There are numerous differences between the 17 versions.This suggests that the two artists may have studied the same scene, or that Stubbs borrowed from Hearne the images of the girl pausing in front of the haycart with her hayrake upright, the woman raking in hay, and the man on top of the cart.Hearne's picture was exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1783, but Stubbs chose not to exhibit his early versions of content, is reminiscent of Stubbs's earlier depictions of groups of grooms and stable-lads rubbing down horses.