The Trysting Place

Paintings of peasants were extremely popular in the late nineteenth century and reflect middle-class attitudes about the rural lower class. Daniel Ridgway Knight does not present the hard facts of French rural life; instead the viewer is titillated with a flirtation between an adolescent boy and girl.

Like other paintings of courting peasants from this period, their actions also imply moral lessons. The boy seems confident, although not aggressive, with his jaunty pose, while the girl looks away demurely and nervously. Both have put aside their tasks for this momentary romance; her pitcher rests on the ground, while his boat and fish trap are abandoned at the shore. Behind them the working women and the church are reminders of the virtuous life of faith temporarily forgotten but ever present. The glowing yellow sky and bright poppies add to the tenderness of the moment, while details like the boy’s wooden shoes help to create the impression of a county vignette brought to life.

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