About this artwork

The scene is set in East Lothian where McKay was born. The women ‘bondagers’, as such workers were called, are removing potatoes from the clamps in which they have been stored for the winter. This image of rural women working the land reveals the influence of the French artist Jean François Millet (1814-1875).

  • title: Field Working in Spring
  • accession number: NG 1669
  • artist: William Darling McKayScottish (1844 - 1924)
  • gallery: On Loan
  • object type: Painting
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1878
  • measurements: 64.20 x 97.50 cm (Framed: 87.00 x 120.50 x 9.50 cm)
  • credit line: Presented by the Misses Stodart 1926
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

William Darling McKay

William Darling McKay

William Darling McKay was born in Gifford, East Lothian in 1844. He studied art in Edinburgh before travelling to Holland, where he was greatly influenced by the painters of The Hague School. Like the French Barbizon painters, The Hague painters preferred to work out of doors, concentrating on the effects of light and atmosphere on the landscape. On his return to Scotland, McKay sought out rural subjects in his native East Lothian, and his paintings have become synonymous with that area. His pastoral landscapes filled with incidents of rural life show the influence of Jean François Millet (1814-1875), particularly in McKay's images of men and women working the land.