Guy Rose Paints a Peasant

December 26, 2015

Home » Commentary » Guy Rose Paints a Peasant

“Pardon me, Madame,” I say in French to a lady framed in the Crocker Art Museum. “May I ask you a few questions?”

“You can see I’m busy, I reckon.”

“Yes, but you’ve been at this task a long time and I thought you could take a little break.”

“I’ll keep working, go ahead and ask.”

The label notes this Guy Rose painting from 1890 is titled Food for the Laborers. A peasant woman sits heavily and forward in her chair, and a gold-colored pan on the floor holds vegetables she’ll cut. She’s already been cutting with the knife in her right hand. A frying pan’s hot on an open fire in a darkened room dreary as her hair wrapped in a soiled off-white cap. She’s wearing a long work-skirt the same color and a saggy blue blouse.

“I’ve never seen a Guy Rose painting at all like this,” I say.

“I’ve never seen this one or any other.”

“Later, he usually painted seascapes and landscapes as well as commission portraits of perfect young ladies. He lived in Giverny for several years and was a good friend of Claude Monet, you know.”

“I don’t know or care anything about men who made lots of money painting pretty pictures for rich people. But I wondered why he’d want to paint me working here.”

“He made a great artistic decision, painting realistically instead of fantasies of young women and nature at its most sublime.”

“Probably didn’t make much money on this one.”

“At the time, probably not. He evidently got away from psychologically penetrating scenes by the twentieth century. I wish he’d continued like this. He was only about twenty-three.”

“I remember he was a young fellow, an American who spoke passable French.”

“Did he seem unhealthy? When he was a kid one of his brothers accidentally shot him in the face while they hunted in California.”

“He looked a little off.”

“I think that affected him all his life. Back in the United States, a stroke paralyzed him in his mid-fifties and he died a few years later. How did your life work out?”

“About like you’d expect.”

I can’t find an image of Food for Laborers, a realistic scene different than this characteristic work: By the Fireside.

George Thomas Clark

George Thomas Clark is the author of Hitler Here, a biographical novel published in India and the Czech Republic as well as the United States. His commentaries for are read in more than 50 countries a month.

Recent Commentary


HITLER HERE is a well researched and lyrically written biographical novel offering first-person stories by the Fuehrer and a variety of other characters. This intimate approach invites the reader to peer into Hitler’s mind, talk to Eva Braun, joust with Goering, Goebbels, and Himmler, debate with the generals, fight on land and at sea and…
See More
Art history and fiction merge to reveal the lives and emotions of great painters Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, William H. Johnson, Lee Krasner, and many others.
See More
This fast-moving collection blends fiction and movie history to illuminate the stimulating lives and careers of noted actors, actresses, and directors. Stars of this book include Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Alfred Hitchcock, Clint Eastwood, Cate Blanchett, and Spike Lee.
See More
In this collection of thirty-eight chiseled short stories, George Thomas Clark introduces readers to actors, alcoholics, addicts, writers famous and unknown, a general, a lovelorn farmer, a family besieged by cancer, extraterrestrials threatening the world, a couple time traveling back to a critical battle, a deranged husband chasing his wife, and many more memorable people…
See More
Anne Frank On Tour and Other Stories
This lively collection offers literary short stories founded on History, Love, Need, Excess, and Final Acts.
See More
In lucid prose author George Thomas Clark recalls the challenges of growing up in a family beset by divorce, depression, and alcoholism, and battling similar problems as an adult.
See More
Let’s invite many of the greatest boxers and their contemporaries to tell their own stories, some true, others tales based on history. The result is a fascinating look into the lives and battles of those who thrilled millions but often ruined themselves while so doing.
See More
In a rousing trip through the worlds of basketball and football, George Thomas Clark explores the professional basketball league in Mexico, the Herculean talents of Wilt Chamberlain, the artistry of LeBron James, the brilliance of Bill Walsh, and lots more. Half the stories are nonfiction and others are satirical pieces guided by the unwavering hand of an inspired storyteller.
See More
Get on board this collection of satirical stories, based on news, about the entertaining but absurd and often quite dangerous events following the election of President Donald J. Trump in November 2016 until January 6, 2021, shortly after his loss to Joe Biden.
See More
Join Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and other notables on a raucous ride into a fictional world infused with facts from one of the roughest political races in modern U.S. history.
See More
History and literary fiction enliven the Barack Obama phenomenon from the African roots of his father and grandfather to the United States where young Obama struggles to control vices and establish his racial identity. Soon, the young politician is soaring but under fire from a variety of adversaries including Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh.
See More
These satirical columns allow startlingly candid Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush to explain their need to control the destinies of countries, regions, and, ultimately, the world. Osama bin Laden, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Karl Rove, and other notables, not all famous, also demand part of the stage.
See More
Where Will We Sleep
Determined to learn more about those who fate did not favor, the author toured tattered, handmade refuges of those without homes and interviewed them on the streets and in homeless shelters, and conversed with the poor in the United States, Mexico, Ecuador, and Spain, and on occasion wrote composite stories to illuminate their difficult lives.
See More
In search of stimulating stories, the author interviewed prostitutes in Madrid, Mexico City, Havana, and Managua and on many boulevards in the United States, and he talked to detectives and rode the rough roads of social workers who deal with human trafficking, which is contemporary slavery, and sometimes used several lives to create stories, and everywhere he ventured he witnessed struggles of those whose lives are bound In Other Hands.
See More
In compressed language Clark presents a compilation of short stories and creative columns about relationships between men and women.
See More