Bargaining for a Horse
Mount based this scene on his close observation of neighbors in his hometown of Stony Brook, Long Island. He focused on two farmers who are debating the merits and value of a horse being traded. They do so slyly, each ostensibly as interested in the slow progress of his whittling as he is in the deal. Neither wants to lose, and each is prepared to wait the other one out. Seduced by the pursuit of profit, however, one farmer (in the top hat) has let his barn go to ruin—the crossbeam holding up the roof has cracked—and he ignores his wife (in the background). With a subtle economy of detail and pose, Mount reminds his viewers that this Yankee may be too shrewd for his own good. William Sidney Mount (November 26, 1807 – November 19, 1868) was an American painter best known for his genre paintings, although he also painted landscapes and portraits. He was a contemporary of the Hudson River School.