Maggie Laubser grew up on a farm in the Malmesbury district and, on her return from Europe in 1924, settled on the farm Oortmanspost in the same area. The subject of the farm and its labourers, and specifically the harvesting of crops, was one which she revisited repeatedly during the period 1928 to 1940. She produced a number of variations on the theme, usually featuring two or three harvesters gathering wheat in the foreground, behind them yellow fields, mountains and often clouds. In a review written in 1932, the year this work was painted, AC Bouman refers to the poignancy of these images: ‘There is the colourful Oestyd (Harvest time),
with reapers, which could have been such a lighthearted work, so much colour and labour. But here, too, is a sadness, something mournful and heavy: the earth pulls the labourers down, it is as if their feet cleave to the ground with the thunder clouds looming full of threat in the sky’ (quoted in Dalene Marais (ed), Maggie Laubser: her paintings, drawings and graphics,
Johannesburg and Cape Town, 1994, p48).
This painting is included in the catalogue raisonné, as no 1056 Two harvesters in a landscape, with the correct cataloguing and provenance but incorrectly illustrated (see Marais, p273). The entry is uncertain of the date of the painting but a recent cleaning has revealed it conclusively to be 1932. This painting was acquired directly from the artist c1942 by Mr Hannes Uys and remained in the possession of his descendants until recently. Uys loaned the work for two major exhibitions. The first was the group exhibition, Acht Hedendaagse Schilders uit Zuid-Afrika (Eight contemporary painters from South Africa), at the Gemeentemuseum in Den Haag, The Netherlands; there is a label on the reverse indicating that it was also shown at the Groninger Museum, Groningen, and in Arnhem. It was also included in the Maggie Laubser retrospective held at the South African National Gallery in 1969 (cat no 94, label on reverse).