This recently acquired early etching by Charles Tunnicliffe, The Harvesters (1925) which features in our forthcoming November show, All Critters Great and Small (animals in art & craft), will surprise many who primarily know him by his later bird and animal illustrations. It dates from the time of the great neo-pastoral revival in England in the wake of a major contemporary London exhibition on Samuel Palmer.

Critics believe this work to have been contextually influenced by the continental 19th c artist Boehle. For me it has a distinctly Italianate quality, although it also compares with some of the rural output of Durer. Whatever the source of inspiration, it shows an exceptional eye for detail by a young artist at the start of his career.

Tunnicliffe’s early prints are of a particular interest to us as they show a strong ruralist vein not out of keeping with the 1920s output of Sutherland, Drury and subsequently, Tanner. They date from a time when Charles was still living on his family’s farm in Cheshire which evidently provided him with a wealth of subject matter.

Indeed, it is very likely that the subjects were known to him, possibly working as labourers on his parent’s farm. The very distinctive dappled Percheron draught horses also feature in a number of his works of the 1920s.

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