Dimensions: 53.5 × 73cm
Collection: Niland Collection
Provenance: Presented to Sligo County Library and Museum, 1965 by James A. Healy as a memorial to his parents John and Catherine Healy.
When shown in New York in 1904, the occasion of the artist’s only visit to the United States, the New York Times described the painting as ‘An Irish farmer on horseback resting with his feet out of stirrups as he reaches for his pipe during the wait in a fox hunt’. Certainly the figure seems to be taking a rest and surveying the scene around him although there is no suggestion of other figures or the excitement and noise of a hunt.
The low viewpoint looking up at the large figure of the man and his mount, adds to the dignity and authority of the farmer. Beneath him extends an expanse of open countryside leading to the sea with mountains dominating the horizon. The boggy, rocky ground on which the horse stands, is richly coloured in blues, greens, browns and purples. The enormous attention given to the sky which takes up four fifths of the composition lends an exotic note to the painting, suggesting the strangeness of the locality in which the farmer lives, right at the edge of the land.
Written by Roisin Kennedy