Barnyard Scene, Sunset
Thomas Hewes Hinckley (1813–1896)
Dorchester, Massachusetts, 1848
Oil on canvas
30 5/8 x 39 in.
Bequest of Dorothy S. F. M. Codman
When this was painted in 1848 the divisions that would ripen into the Civil War were smoldering in New England. Already violence had broken out between those who supported the status quo and those who fought for abolition. This painting can be seen as an antidote, an intentionally sanitized view of an agrarian world. There is no hint of the cow and sheep dung, or the flies, or the dirt that would surely be visible on the white apron of the maid a-milking. And no hint of the storm clouds we now know were on the horizon.