Reserved - Emma Smythe, Suffolk Mill

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An idyllic English rural scene depicting three faggot gatherers before a windmill in Suffolk. The artist, Emma Smythe (1819-1877), hailed from Bury St Edmunds and often painted idealised views of this beautiful county.

Faggot gathering involved collecting parcels of certain items, often wood or sticks, and the word ‘faggot’ is an archaic English term for a ‘bundle’.

Here, in Smythe’s depiction, we see three men laden with wood walking along a track adjacent to a windmill. Two are upright but one appears to be stooping under the weight. The wispy clouds above them feel typically British and the earth is awash with red flora.

Often when we think of idealised views of the Suffolk countryside, the first name that springs to mind is that of John Constable (1776-1837). Constable’s picturesque scenes were a breath of fresh air against a backdrop of rapid industrialisation.

Emma Smythe, along with her brothers, Edward (1810-1899) and Thomas (1825-1907), often painted in the same vein and each of them had successful careers. Emma is probably the least well-known, despite exhibiting five times at the Royal Academy and also at the British Institution. There’s no question that in the 19th-century, her gender would’ve made it harder to achieve the recognition she deserved.

Emma had two children with her husband, Robinson Taylor, and settled in Ipswich, where she became a drawing and painting teacher.

This particular work appeared at Christie's in 2003 and the original catalogue from the sale will be sent along with the painting.

Oil on board
Size including frame
16⅓” x 16⅓” / 41.5cm x 41.5cm
Year of creation
c. 1860
Artwork in good condition with no issues and frame with light age-related wear.