During the 1870s, American Realists such as Winslow Homer and Thomas Eakins occasionally depicted African Americans engaged in their daily activities. Here, Anshutz portrayed a woman and two children caring for their vegetable garden. The rural setting appears pleasant, but the figures’ poses and facial expressions seem to project despair, even anger. Although the composition is ambitious, the treatment of anatomy—especially the woman’s elongated arm—suggests that Anshutz, then studying with Eakins at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, still had much to learn.
Signature: [at lower right]: Thos. Anshutz / 1879
the artist's sister, Edith Anshutz, by 1912; Mrs. Wiley, before 1935; with Norman Hirschl Gallery, New York, until 1940; with M. Knoedler and Company, New York, 1940