jueves, 28 de julio de 2016


Christa Zaat

Henry Herbert La Thangue (English painter) 1859 - 1929
The Boat Builders Yard, Cancale, Brittany, 1881
oil on canvas
76.1 x 82.2 cm.
National Maritime Museum, United Kingdom

A scene in a boat builder's yard at Cancale, Brittany, on the north-west coast of France. Brittany had many beach boatyards of the kind portrayed. In the foreground to the right, a girl with strong facial features sits in profile gazing to the left on a carpenter's bench. She wears traditional local dress of a blue serge skirt, grey-and-white striped chemise and white headdress, with sabots (wooden clogs) on her feet. On the ground lie tools of the boat builder's trade: a pit-saw part-visible to the left of the bench, a pitch-ladle leaning against the jaw of the bench-vice, and a side-axe and adze on the chippings below. Immediately behind the girl the wood has been ordered into a low fence, acting as a barrier, and beyond this a fishing boat stands partly constructed in frame, in port bow view, supported by light timber shores.

The artist has demonstrated a concern with progress through the depiction of the use of wood in the image. The vessel under construction, like those sailing beyond, is a 'chaloupe thonière', a working boat used on the north-west coast of France for several decades and built fully in frame before being carvel-planked. The 'mould-and-batten' building method has been carefully observed, only the forward frames being largely complete, with the horizontal upper and lower battens guiding the line of the hull clearly visible between bow and stern, round the prominent and critical midships main-frame.

La Thangue was one of several English artists who followed the French realists in painting along the Brittany coast in the 1880s. They chose subjects of ordinary working life, done on the spot, and this style of work was regarded as revolutionary in challenging the artistic conventions of the English art institutions. In its observation of the working methods and conditions of Breton boat building – an industry linked practically and culturally with the fishing villages of contemporary Cornwall – the painting also anticipates the Newlyn school.

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