Harry Becker (1865-1928) is not well known outside East Anglia but he is much admired both for a skilled grasp of Impressionism and his choice of subject matter.
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.
The work came for sale at Bellmans in West Sussex on June 17 where it was catalogued as ‘attributed to Harry Becker’ and offered with an estimate of just £200-300.
As well as being quite typical of his style, the exhibition label also states it came from the Loftus collection – giving it provenance to the family who were the artist’s most active patrons. The particular brand of artist board with a Clifford Milburn label was also used by Becker for many other Suffolk oil paintings. Confident of a full attribution, bidders pursued it to £8000 (plus 22% buyer’s premium).
The price was among the highest fetched at auction for a work by Becker. In September last year a larger and equally lively 14 x 17in (36 x 43cm) hay-cutting scene by the artist sold for £10,200 at Scarborough saleroom David Duggleby.