Hop picking

Accession Number ART03605.028.002
Collection type Art
Measurement backing sheet: 45.5 x 28.8 cm; image: 21.5 x 26.3 cm
Object type Drawing
Physical description ink on paper
Place made Belgium
Date made September 1916
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: AWM Licensed copyright


Depicts Belgium women sitting on stools beside large baskets as they are engaged in the laborious task of picking the hop cones from the bines (climbing stem) by hand. Hops are climbing plants and Benson has depicted the large poles that support the hops towering above the women. Behind them is the dense foliage of the hop farm setting them against a dark background.

It is likely that this sketch was made in Poperinge, a small municipality in the region of West Flanders that is famous for its hops. The poles were arranged in alleys, which were then divided up into sets or drifts. Hop pickers picked in gangs and each gang worked their own basket, as depicted in this sketch.

Situated just behind the front line during the war, Poperinge was on a direct road and railway link to the battlefields and was, therefore, used for the distribution of supplies, for billeting troops and casualty clearing stations.