James Howe Carse - The Daily Tasks of Rural Life

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James Howe Carse (c.1818-1900)

The Daily Tasks of Rural Life, c. 1860


oil on canvas
signed J Carse
unframed 45.5 x 60 cm 
framed 61 x 77 cm 

Essay:
This serene landscape painting is by James Howe Carse, a Scottish-Australian artist whose lineage and mentorship are deeply rooted in the artistic traditions of his time. Carse's works are quintessential representations of the Romantic era, where the emphasis on pastoral beauty and harmonious nature-human interactions are profoundly depicted.

Born into a family of artists, James Howe Carse was the son of Alexander Carse, also known as 'Old Carse,' who was recognized for his Scottish genre scenes. Having been named after the Scottish animal painter James Howe, it's evident that Carse's destiny was to become an artist from the beginning. His artistic journey was shaped by the Royal Scottish Academy, where his father was a founding member, and this foundation is palpable in the pastoral tranquility that his paintings convey.

This painting "The Daily Tasks of Rural Life" is a testament to Carse's ability to capture the sublime in everyday rural life. It showcases a bucolic setting during the early autumn, as suggested by the slightly yellowed foliage. At the forefront, we see a resident amidst his livestock—cows, ducks, and chickens—with a loyal dog by his side, perhaps herding the animals. The scene is completed by the figure of a woman, who could be the man's wife, standing by a fence, waving goodbye at the gate. This suggests a narrative of departure or daily routine, a moment caught in time where life's simple activities are glorified.

The modest dwelling in the background, with its gentle wisp of smoke rising from the chimney, further roots the scene in its rural context, evoking a sense of warmth and homeliness. The light in the painting is exquisite, casting a soft glow that enhances the feeling of tranquility and harmony with nature.

Carse's technique reflects his Scottish training and the influences of his time spent in Australia and New Zealand. His works often feature landscapes and natural beauty, sometimes with indigenous figures or local wildlife, depicting the unique qualities of the regions he painted. His brushwork, while detailed in his earlier works such as our painting that we believe is from around the 1860s, and later become more loose and more impressionistic as he matured, although his later pieces sometimes suffered from repetitiveness and varied quality due to personal struggles.

"The Daily Tasks of Rural Life" is a representation of a time and a lifestyle that are both long past, yet its allure remains timeless. Carse's art captures the essence of a landscape's mood, offering a window into the peaceful daily life of a bygone era. His work, while not always celebrated in the grand manner of some of his contemporaries, carries a quiet romanticism and a sincere reverence for the natural world, as evidenced in this beautiful pastoral scene.

Comparable sales: 


Lawsons Auctions Australia, "Harvest Landscape", jan 2023, Sold for 7.500 € including buyers premium. 

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James Howe Carse - The Daily Tasks of Rural Life
James Howe Carse - The Daily Tasks of Rural Life
James Howe Carse - The Daily Tasks of Rural Life
James Howe Carse - The Daily Tasks of Rural Life
James Howe Carse - The Daily Tasks of Rural Life
James Howe Carse - The Daily Tasks of Rural Life
James Howe Carse - The Daily Tasks of Rural Life
James Howe Carse - The Daily Tasks of Rural Life
James Howe Carse - The Daily Tasks of Rural Life
James Howe Carse - The Daily Tasks of Rural Life
James Howe Carse - The Daily Tasks of Rural Life
James Howe Carse - The Daily Tasks of Rural Life
James Howe Carse - The Daily Tasks of Rural Life
James Howe Carse - The Daily Tasks of Rural Life