The Blacksmith's Rest
Oil on panel; signed and dated 1881
17 x 21 inches
Until about 1880, Holl set his often tragic narratives of modern life in dark interiors similar to this — but after he became a successful portraitist, his sombre subject pictures became fewer, while the dark themes of his days at The Graphic magazine lightened up. Still, he loved to paint with black. Here a blacksmith takes a smoke in the cool shadows of his workshop, the bright summer sunshine outside barely piercing the gloom, like stained glass in a church.