Clare Leighton

British, b.1898, d.1989


  • 1933
  • Wood engraving
  • Presented by Rex Nan Kivell, 1953
  • 280 x 380mm
  • 94/72

Clare Leighton was a distinguished wood engraver in both England and America. Her parents, the popular fiction writers Marie Connor and Robert Leighton, influenced her to write and illustrate her own books. The two woodblocks shown here appear in her first book, The Farmer’s Year: A Calendar of English Husbandry, published in 1933. The Farmer’s Year illustrates the twelve months of the year on the Buckinghamshire farm where Leighton was living. These wood engravings illustrate threshing in March and apple-picking in September.

Leighton said: “Getting to know the farmers and working with them, I learned the pattern of the year as I shared the shepherds hut at lambing time. I stooked the grain at harvest and climbed ladders to pick apples. I had come home.” Leighton felt a great connection to rural life, finding this a more honest way of living than what workers experienced in the city. This outlook was similar to that of the earlier French realists such as Jean-François Millet, who created celebratory depictions of farm life at a time when many people were leaving the countryside and moving to urban areas.

(Leaving for Work, 2 October 2021 - 1 May 2022)

Exhibition History