- Museum number
Digging potatoes in a kitchen garden; woman wearing sun bonnet digging in foreground with boy filling basket, another woman on right carrying pail towards half-timbered house in background, row of cabbages in right foreground. 1871
Watercolour strengthened with gum on paper with strip added at left
- Production date
Height: 276 millimetres
Width: 405 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- William Small, born in Edinburgh was already a competent black and white illustrator when he came to London in 1865, the decade when he produced his best work. He worked for 'The Graphic', 'Once a Week' and many other periodicals and illustrated several books. The figure of the young boy in the foreground of the present work helped to identify the artist of a watercolour of Hop Pickers now at Maidstone, once thought to be the work of his contemporary and fellow-illustrator George Pinwell. This work may be that exhibited in 1871 at the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours as 'Potatoes' (no.156).
The following label was written by Kim Sloan for Places of the Mind, 2017:
Like the Idyllists, North and Walker, William Small was a graphic illustrator whose work appeared regularly in books and periodicals. He came to London from Edinburgh in 1865 and produced his best work during the following decade. This watercolour is probably the one titled Potatoes shown at the Society of Painters in Watercolours in 1871. The muscular women digging the crop here are not the owners of the house or garden, nor are they gardeners, but rather labourers who lived in cottages like that depicted by Helen Allingham.
For further information see Anna Gruetzner Robins, ''South Country' and other imagined places, in Kim Sloan (ed.), Places of the Mind: British watercolour landscapes 1850-1950, London, 2017, pp. 92-117.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2017 23 Feb-27 Aug, London, BM, G90, Places of the Mind: British Landscape watercolours 1850-1950
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This item has an uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45. The British Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of all works during that era.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number