Andrew Lambirth

Ghosts in a landscape: farming life through the eyes of Thomas Hennell

Jessica Kilburn celebrates an unjustly neglected artist who captured in delicate watercolours the passing of ancient agricultural traditions in the 1930s

‘The Land is Yours’ by Thomas Hennell — one of many watercolours capturing a way of farming that was being superseded by mechanisation. Credit: Bridgeman Images

Thomas Hennell is one of that generation of painters born in 1903 whose collective achievements are such an adornment of modern British art. Among his contemporaries are Edward Bawden, Richard Eurich, John Piper, Eric Ravilious and Graham Sutherland. Some of these have been over-praised (Sutherland’s reputation was unhelpfully inflated for many years, then suffered a crash), others underrated, such as Eurich.

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