The Haymaker: A Study in Shadows
1904 by George Clausen
Dublin City Gallery
The Haymaker is indeed a study in shadows; Clausen was clearly bewitched by the light that he exploits in this picture. Light falls in an autumnal amber hue, dappled between green leaves and luminescent as it touches the boy’s glowing skin. The warmth, the natural blush, of the boy’s face is one of youth. Far from self-conscious it outlines his expression of introvert contemplation, part of what makes this painting so intimate. Not only are we stealing a look through the shadows of leafy branches, but what we find is someone privately absorbed in their own thoughts as they pause from their day’s work. We have discovered the haymaker’s hide, warm and safely secluded. Even the greens in this painting possess a warmth, forgetting their usual coldness, while the blurs of fields in the background melt into the golden brown of the hay.