Henry Herbert La Thangue, R.A. 1859 - 1929
Violets for Perfume
Photo: R.A./John Hammond
© Royal Academy of Arts, London
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Violets for Perfume, ca. 1913
Oil on canvas, 1090 X 950 mm
Diploma Work given by Henry Herbert La Thangue, R.A., accepted 1913
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'Sunlight was the thing that attracted him: this and some simple motive of rural occupation, enhanced by a picturesque surround.' (George Clausen on La Thangue, 1931)

In the 1890s La Thangue grew interested in French Impressionism and began making painting trips to Provence and Liguria. His Diploma work, 'Violets for Perfume', which was painted late in his career, shows a woman tipping a basket of freshly picked violets onto a muslin sheet in preparation for perfume making.

Throughout his career La Thangue derived his subject matter from workers in fields, vineyards and orchards. This picturesque scene is far removed from the industrialised working practices, which, he lamented, were eroding English rural traditions and communities. The painting combines La Thangue's love of dappled light, strong colour and fluid brushwork. Although he preferred to paint outdoors to using a studio, the strong compositional diagonals in this work are typical of La Thangue. They indicate that the painting is to some degree "staged", rather than executed with total Impressionist immediacy.

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