James McLachlan Nairn

Aotearoa New Zealand / Scotland, b.1859, d.1904

Hoeing The Crop

  • Presented by the Canterbury Society of Arts, 1932
  • Oil on canvas
  • 440 x 535mm
  • 69/508
  • 1894-1895

When this painting was cleaned in 2008 we were delighted to find an inscription and date revealed beside the artist’s signature: ‘Taita 1894–95’. Taita is located in Lower Hutt, just down the road from Silverstream, where Nairn and fellow artists established an artist’s colony at Pumpkin Cottage in 1894. Unlike the serene rural setting depicted in Nairn’s painting, Taita today is a sprawling urban centre that was developed after World War II. Nairn painted the sunshine, revelling in its warmth and brightness as it bears down on a labourer toiling away in the fields. With its spontaneous plein-air approach, scenes such as Hoeing the Crop highlight the influence the French Barbizon and Impressionist painters had on Nairn when he was painting in Scotland; an influence he in turn provided for local artists to follow. (March 2018)

earlier labels about this work
  • Nature's Own Voice, 6 February - August 2009

    This work is likely to have been finished in Nairn’s studio but there is a vibrancy to his technique that strongly suggests parts of it may have been painted outdoors through direct observation. The vegetable crops in the foreground are simply represented,with the dabs of quickly applied paint conveying the strong sense of immediacy found in plein-air paintings. Nairn’s pleinair approach was a revelation to manywhen he arrived in New Zealand fromScotland in 1890, and influenced a new generation of New Zealand artists.