Exhibition"Retrospectieve Emile Claus" PMMK, Ostend 1997, nr. 107, p. 176 ill.
Provenancecoll. Goffard, Brussels
EMILE CLAUS'S PASTORALE
A long day of farming is coming to an end. Haystacks are rhythmically piled up, which reflects the result of hard work. A last heavy shovel with the pitchfork weighs on the farmer's wife. No doubt she is tired, but she perseveres with a heroic dignity that seems almost effortless. It was a hot day in July. Finally, the evening brings along the prospect of well-deserved rest and cooling down. The field is still shimmering with heath. Some rays of sun are still burning, but luckily the foliage of the trees bordering the field blocks them out.
Claus tries to capture the ever-changing light of the sunset. He explores different tonalities and expresses them in his personal touch which is a spontaneous mix of pasty patches, stripes, commas and smudges. The painter applies unmixed colors, intending a pure representation. The haystacks in the foreground are abruptly cut-off, which is reminiscent of photography and accentuates the image's realism.
The reality of rural life around Astene was a major theme for Claus. Born in a working-class family with thirteen children, he was already during his childhood confronted with the rough world of flax situated along the river Lys. Claus' paintings don't reveal fieldwork as such, but rather the idealized harmony between the farmer, his labor and nature cultivated by man.