Moody undertook numerous sketches around Surbiton and Kingston (then still rural & where his family lived), in particular of tree shapes and lines – which form the background to Ploughing, when he was beginning to experiment with larger canvases:
The ploughman is undoubtedly a self-portrait and is allegorical. It’s a pastoral scene (reminiscent of the earlier Arts and Crafts movement) representing the connection between man, beast and nature – the young ploughman methodically toiling the soil in preparation for new growth and the promise of a good harvest.
Moody was trained at the Royal Academy Schools, co-founded the New Kingston Group of painters and taught at Wimbledon School of Art in the early 1930’s. However he is better remembered as a theatre and opera producer as well as Director of the Arts Council’s Drama department. He took over Eric Ravilious’s and Edward Bawden’s studio in the late 1920’s and he worked closely with Robert Medley and John Piper. He was badly injured during the Blitz which affected his painting ability, which is why his early work is particularly interesting.
We are grateful to Richard Thompson for assistance.