The Big Ash by the Common
Watercolour; signed and dated 1875.
25 x 35 inches
Winter Exhibition, Royal Water-colour Society 1876/7, no 386.
In 1863 North moved to West Somerset, where he lived and painted for the rest of his life. On occasion, his friend Fred Walker, who died in 1875, would help him with the figures in his more ambitious watercolours, and this is probably one of them. Thick with bodycolour, the figures stand out against the watercolour landscape, in which North has employed every trick to render different effects of opacity, colour and texture. A woman brings laundry to others under an ancient tree, but, otherwise occupied with reading, embroidery and lady-like pastimes, they don’t seem pleased at the prospect of hanging it out to dry.