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Hop Picking

Thomas Hennell (1903-1945)


Inscribed with title and '(Mr Davis's Brierley Farm Nr Leominster)' and dated 'Sept 15th, 1941' on reverse

Watercolour and pencil on tinted paper

11 ¾ x 17 inches

'A Century of British Art: 1900-1945', Chris Beetles Gallery, 21 June-17 July 2021, No 171

In September 1941, Thomas Hennell spent ten days with Vincent Lines at the home of Lines’s mother, at Whitney-on-Wye, Herefordshire, close to the Welsh border. This gave him the opportunity to fulfil a commission from the War Artists’ Advisory Committee to produce some drawings of the harvest, which was the key component of wartime domestic food production.
As Jessica Kilburn explains in her study of Hennell,

'the harvest in Herefordshire occurred ‘somewhat later’ than in other areas and brought him ‘no lack of fine possibilities’ ... Painting alongside Lines enabled him "to tackle more harvest subjects than I would otherwise have attempted".'
(Jessica Kilburn,
Thomas Hennell: The Land and the Mind, London: Pimpernel Press, 2021, page 238, quoting letters from Hennell to Gwyneth Lloyd Thomas and H J Massingham)

Near the end of their stay, they visited Brierley Court, a hop farm owned by William Davies, that was situated just south of Leominster, and about 15 miles from Whitney-on-Wye. The Kent-born Hennell would have been familiar with such scenes of hop picking as the one that he captured in the present watercolour. The WAAC purchased seven of the watercolours that he produced of the harvest, plus another of Scythe Smithy, Belbroughton, Worcestershire (and most of these are now in the Government Art Collection).

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