Born in Colchester in 1865 of German parents, he gained his artist’s education in Paris, at the Antwerp Royal Academy (Van Gogh had been there the year before) and at the Bushey School of Art under Hubert von Herkomer.
Much of his work is in the tradition of ‘peasant painting’. During the 13 years he lived in Suffolk from 1912, Becker made numerous records of working the land in the years before mechanisation.
This quite typical 14 x 17in (36 x 43cm) oil on canvas board, above, of a farmhand cutting grasses with a scythe is unsigned but is inscribed Harry Becker to verso. The auctioneers at David Duggleby (22.5% buyer’s premium) of Scarborough noted that this particular brand of artist board (with a Clifford Milburn label) was used by Becker on other oils.
The work came from a local private vendor who had purchased the painting in a charity shop some years ago. Estimated at £300-500 on September 13, it did rather better in selling for £10,200 to a private buyer on the phone, making it one of the highest prices fetched at auction for a work by Becker.