March 17, 2004

Roles in the hay (play).

Making hay and making out, 17th cent. woodcut (detail) Jorg Breu I. Hay harvest (June), 1521 (detail).The phrase “roll in the hay” is widely understood as a euphemism for making out (or making love), even by those who wouldn’t dream of exposing citified skin to our scratchy rural material. This essay will explore such rolls, from the early 16th century to the 1990s, from a drawing by Altdorfer to eighteenth century naughtiness of Rowlandson and Fragonard, from gentle Victorian flirtations to pinup publicity photographs of Jane Russell and Raquel Welch. Details from two images introduced in our other Roles in the Hay essay show the close relationship of hay with women’s roles, rolls, and rakes: at left, the crowded Jorg Breu 1521 haymaking scene in which women with rakes flirt with rakes; and at right, the crudely carved seventeenth century woodcut, originally captioned "Making hay while the sun shines.” Behind a woman working with a rake another sits by a haycock on a man's lap.

Through the middle of the twentieth century, in Devonshire, there was "a custom that each new rick of hay should be slept on by a young man and a girl, in order to ensure that the hay would prove sweet, and the fiancée pregnant."
1953 R. DUNCAN in the Oxford Dictionary of Superstitions.





Altdorfer, Fragonard and Rowlandson.

Albrecht Altdorfer. Lovers in a hayfield, 1508 drawing (ID 28).
This delicate drawing depicts a couple lying out of sight of a church tower, which looms behind the tall grass, or soon-to-be hay. A clearer, larger image can be found at the Athenaeum web-site, by clicking on the thumbnail.

Jean Honore Fragonard. Love in a stable, 18th cent. drawing (ID 102).
Two bodies, clothed but bare-legged and of uncertain gender, embrace on a bed of hay, while a bovine chews placidly more interested in what they are lying on, than what they are doing on it. The lively brush-strokes add to the excitement. The brush-strokes, hay, etc., are easier to see by zooming in from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco ImageBase.

Jean Honore Fragonard. Jument du compere Pierre, 18th cent. drawing (ID 103).
Another variant on the mildly erotic romp in the hay theme. Evidently a young woman has been discovered by her patron on a hay stack in a barn. Her position and state of undress is, well, compromising, as is the presence of an apparently younger companion. The flowing haystack is a highlit backdrop to the center of the drama. Use the ImageBase zoom to look more closely at the, um, hay.

Thomas Rowlandson. Rural sports, or A pleasant way of making hay, 1814 (ID 139).
The workers have laid down their tools (fork and rake) and are now laying down each other. The foreground is a ribald group writhing and romping together on green hay -- two couples embracing, and two other girls throwing or about to throw bundles of green hay on top of them. In the background more conventional haymaking is being done: a woman with a rake and other figures loading a haycart. A lovely and lively water-colored engraving, blushing pink in all the right places. Use the ImageBase zoom to discover the delightful details.

Altdorfer.  Lovers in a hayfield, 1508 drawing. Fragonard. Love in a stable, 18th cent. drawing. Fragonard. Jument du compere Pierre, 18th cent. drawing. Rowlandson. Rural sports, or A pleasant way of making hay, 1814.


Mild flirtations.

Adriaen van de Velde. Haymakers in a landscape, 17th cent. (ID 72).
A crowded Dutch landscape with a dozen figures, less than half of whom are working. The rest, in a tightly knit group in the foreground are variously flirting, eating, drinking and sleeping.

Francis Wheatley. Hay cart, 1779 (ID 91).
Christiana Payne notes the influence on Wheatley of French pastoral painters such as Bouche and Greuze who saw the 'countryside as a place of relaxation and flirtation' and she astutely discusses the association of haymaking with lovemaking: 'the work was lighter than at corn harvest, there was less danger of the crop being spoilt by such distractions and it was in any case less valuable. Couples [or, in this case, groups in the process of pairing off] often appear in depictions of haymaking, whereas at harvest time the presence of children as gleaners seems to have encouraged artists to concentrate on family groups instead.' (Toil and plenty; images of agricultural landscape in England, 1780-1890.Yale UP, 1993, p. 81)

Edward Ratclyffe. Rest, 1870 engraving (ID 406).
Although the 'Art of the Print' commentary implies that this companion piece to ID 405 is also set in a hay-field, it is obviously a grain harvest scene. The bare arms and low cut dresses of the women would be less appropriate for bundling sheaves and building stooks than for the relaxed flirtation in which they seem to be engaged. Radclyffe completed both works just before his death in 1863. They were first published seven years later.

van de Velde. Haymakers in a landscape, 17th cent. Wheatley. Hay cart, 1779.Ratclyffe. Rest, 1870 engraving.

Heinrich Dahling. At the garden fence, 1820 (ID 1184).
“Placed in a setting filled with moral and actual barriers to the free expression of their physical loove, a young peasant couple engage in their discreet dalliance in the presence of the young man's elderly father.” Brettell, Richard R and Caroline B. Painters and peasants in the nineteenth century. New York, Rizzoli, 1983, p. 113 [color], p.112.

Winslow Homer. Waiting for an answer, 1872 (ID 305).
The scythers in this painting were used in the Harpers engraving of the same year (ID 304), but the original painting and its title tell a different story -- a young woman stands where the children recline in the engraving, and the painted trees and sea become, in the graphic, a more enclosing foliage.

 Dahling. At the garden fence, 1820.Homer. Waiting for an answer, 1872. Homer. Making hay, 1872 engraving.


The pathos of early hay pinups.

Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes. No Habra los ojos, 18th cent. etching (ID 112).
A woman sleeps, with arms evidently tied behind her, on a bed of darkly depicted hay or straw. The chain in the background indicates a prison setting; Goya's title suggests the misery of her plight.

William Palmer. Louisa, the celebrated maid of the haystack, 1788 (ID 94).
An unfortunate, mentally deranged girl of beauty and refinement who was found under a haystack at Flax Bourton, near Bristol [in the west of England]. The hay is as precisely engraved (by P. W. Tomkins, after Palmer) as Louisa's pathetic gaze.

Helen Allingham. Fanny Robin and haystack in Far from the madding crowd, 1874 (ID 370).
Fanny Robin, 'like a bundle of discarded clothing' is slumped on the ground near a large, finely textured hayrick. Near the stack is a fence with an open gate leading to a wood. Hardy's text: 'She opened a gate within which was a haystack. Under this she lay down.' The Victorian Web has a clearer image and thoroughly detailed commentary.

Goya.  No Habra los ojos, 18th cent. etching.  Palmer. Louisa, the celebrated maid of the haystack, 1788. Allingham. Fanny Robin and haystack in Far from the madding crowd, 1874.


Hay as glamour’s counterpoint.

[unknown photographer] Girl on hay rake, 1930-31 (ID 1391).
Library of Congress caption: “Miss Lucile Gates, Pomona, California, seated on horse-drawn hay rake, preparing for America's farm girl competition at the Los Angeles County Fair.” Horse-rakes, like hand-rakes, were designed to be used by a woman or child.

[unknown photographer] Girls hold farm tools, sit on wall of hay, 1936 (ID 1404).
The original caption quoted by Corbis claims that Hynes, California is 'known as the world's largest hay market, where 2,750,000 tons were marketed [in 1935], this Southern California city clebrates with its annaul Hay and Dairy Festival. These pretty farmerettes were snapped during the festivities.'

Organic Gardening cover girl, 1963 (ID 2021).
An early issue of Rodale's Organic Gardening was graced by a woman on top of a stack of haybales. The cover had little to do with the article which it ostensibly illustrated: "Practical hay-making on a small place" involved no balers.

Laura Wilson. Hutterite girls during the haymaking season, 1991 (ID 2274).
The young women of the Hutterite communities of Montana dress conservatively in similar costumes. Their social and economic communitarianism is similarly at odds with the rest of the west. And yet their farm technology is progressive. In spite of the availability of lots of low-cost labor, they invest in the latest, labor-saving equipment, reflected here in the large round bales on which the girls are posed.


 Girl on hay rake, 1930-31. Girls hold farm tools, sit on wall of hay, 1936. Organic Gardening cover girl, 1963. Wilson.  Hutterite girls during the haymaking season, 1991.

George Hurrell. Jane Russell in the hay: publicity shots for The Outlaw, 1943 (ID 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020).
“Howard Hughes's cynically brilliant commodification of Jane Russell's bosom was a triumph of Hollywood marketing and a harbinger of things to come.” (TV Guide) In annointing Russell's hay pose as #9 of the top ten pinups of all time, Retrocrush notes: "Howard Hughes knew what he wanted when he made the film THE OUTLAW in 1943. After a nationwide search for a 'busty actress' he found Jane Russell. The numerous promotional photos of her lounging about in a stack of hay were extremely racy for the time, and helped keep the film banned from most US theaters until 1950! Hughes even had a special bra invented just for Jane to help prop her up even more! Jane used the fame to endorse "Cross Your Heart" bras in the 70s. At 82, Jane Russell is alive and well as one of the last classic pinup gals still around."
Christie’s auctioned off the original poster of the pose last year exactly 60 years after the film opened in SF. Only two copies of the poster had survived, both belonged to the same owner, an 87 year old lady, who destroyed one of them allegedly to enhance the value of the other! The poster sold for 52,875 pounds. (Daily Telegraph March 5, 2003)

 Hurrell. Jane Russell in the hay, 1943. Hurrell. Jane Russell in the hay, 1943. Hurrell. Jane Russell in the hay, 1943. Hurrell. Jane Russell in the hay, 1943.

John Springer. Rosalind Russell in The Women, 1939 (ID 1419).
A few years before Jane Russell played in the hay with Billie the Kid in the Outlaw, a more wholesome Russell, Rosalind, was turned upside down in a stable scene, with hay, in The Women.

[unknown photographer] Raquel Welch in bikini, 1965 (ID 1633).
Bikini-clad Raquel Welch reclines on a prickly bed in this classic hay-related pin-up publicity photo from Hollywood.

Frederique Veysset. Arielle Dombasle, 1995 (ID 1835).
The full caption is 'Arielle Dombasle at home in Paris and in the country' -- the haywagon image is quintessentially 'country' and the actress posing in front of it represents quintessential urban sophistication.

Sebastien Cailleux. Actress Lea Bosco, 1997 (ID 1871).
The actress Lea Bosco sits on a bale near Etretat in Normandie, a conventional pose contrasting glamor and simplicity.
Springer.  Rosalind Russell in The Women, 1939. Raquel Welch in bikini, 1965.  Veysset. Arielle Dombasle, 1995.  Cailleux. Actress Lea Bosco, 1997.




The more-or-less unselfconscious glamour of hay making.

James Sugar. Girl raking hay, Iowa, c 1972 (ID 1654).
Marilyn Zumbach wears a bikini as she rakes hay on her family's farm near Ryan, Iowa.

Dean Conger. Farm workers raking hay, Russia, 1975 (ID 1664).
Women in bikinis rake and fork a hayfield in a modern version of the 19th century women-hay-workers-in-their-finery convention.

Land girls haymaking, 1940s (ID 1911).
This fascinating image was also included in the "wartime" section of the Roles in the Hay (Work) essay. The impractical workwear can be inspected more closely by using the zoom feature at the art.com site .

Peter Johnson, !Kung women carrying hay, [nd] (ID 1929).
!Kung women and girls carry hay-bundles of various sizes along a Kalahari trail. The notorious National Geographic Magazine topless tradition, exemplified in this image, has been less evident in recent years, perhaps less because of a change in editorial policy than because of the globalization of clothing mores.

 Sugar. Girl raking hay, Iowa, c 1972.  Conger. Farm workers raking hay, Russia, 1975.Land girls haymaking, 1940s.  Johnson, !Kung women carrying hay, [nd].



Costumes of women haymakers.

Francois-Hippolyte Lalaisse. Paysannes ramassant du foin, c 1843 (ID 690).
This documentary image subordinates the record of the actual work of haymaking to the costume of the women haymakers.

Paul Gauguin. Round dance of the Breton girls, 1888 (ID 603).
Gauguin's setting is a generic hay-field, but the costume and the young women's dance are ethnographically specific.

Lalaisse. Paysannes ramassant du foin, c 1843. Gauguin. Round dance of the Breton girls, 1888.

Paul Gauguin. Woman in the hay with pigs, 1888 (ID 605).
Gauguin's famous but mysterious pig-kicking woman sacrifices practicality for decorative sensuality. Although her bonnet is undoubtedly Breton, her bare back and breast are the stuff that Gauguin's Tahitian dreams are made of.

Andre Dunoyer de Segonzac. Moissoneuse debout, 1935 etching (ID 938).
Although the crop is more likely to be a cereal than hay, the costume of the female sickler is so implausible that she can't be excluded from this essay.

Gauguin. Woman in the hay with pigs, 1888. Dunoyer de Segonzac.  Moissoneuse debout, 1935.


Roger Wood. Kurdish women, 1968 (ID 1642).
There is no evidence here of the historic or future geopolitical turmoil tragically associated with the stateless Kurdish people. Instead we are shown conventional elements of exotic ethnography: vernacular architecture, costume, and ... haystacks.

Keren Su. Two elderly Miao women, c 1997 (ID 1872).
Two Miao women sit on a haycock, near Kaili, China, providing another variant on the picturesque woman and hay portrait.

Nazima Kowall. Farmers resting during hay harvest, [nd] (ID 1939).
A Khasi family rests 'during hay harvest' or, more likely, given the pattern of stubble on the ground, the rice harvest, near Sumer, Meghalaya.

Wood. Kurdish women, 1968.  Su. Two elderly Miao women, c 1997. Kowall.  Farmers resting during hay harvest, [nd].




Three ages of women in the hay

Frederick Morgan. Midday rest, 1879 (ID 429).

A charming if sentimental painting shows three generations of women resting next to a haycock under a bright midday sun. An old woman with a white bonnet is offering bread to a small barefoot girl who seems to be looking for permission towards a beautiful dark-haired young woman. The hay and the foliage behind are brilliantly rendered.

Laura Wilson. Hutterite girls during the haymaking season, 1991 (ID 2274).
The young women of the Hutterite communities of Montana dress conservatively in similar costumes. Their social and economic communitarianism is similarly at odds with the rest of the west. And yet their farm technology is progressive. In spite of the availability of lots of low-cost labor, they invest in the latest, labor-saving equipment, reflected here in the large round bales on which the girls are posed.
Morgan. Midday rest, 1879. Wilson.  Hutterite girls during the haymaking season, 1991.




Posted by Alan Ritch at March 17, 2004 04:28 PM