The Sower is a wonderful work on paper, dating from 1946. The subject of the sower is of course a familiar biblical parable, it also a powerful secular image of regeneration, made as it was just after the Second World War. It closely relates to another painting Labourers Sowing, 1945. Vaughan describes having seen figures sowing seed in his published diaries. On 2nd May 1945, he wrote:
‘On the train coming back. From the window I saw two boys cycling together along a straight wide road which had just been washed by a shower of rain. I saw an old man bending over a coop of chickens on a small wedge of grass and slowly dropping the grain between his fingers.
I saw two men striding forward across a sown field flinging out handfuls of white powder from a basket slung around their necks. The sky had gone a deep orange colour and we were running into fresh showers.
Each successive image was so vivid that I had the sensation of becoming entirely a part of the whole situation. I could smell the sharp tarry smell of the steaming road; feel the hardness of saddle and the slight ache in the limbs. I could fell the seeds trickling between my fingers, the slightly damp stillness, the smell of chicken dung. Then the spaciousness of the field and the striding forward into the wind and the need to keep powder out of the eyes.
Each situation was unaware of the existence of the others; only through my observing them did they acquire a certain relationship. In painting one could try to express that relationship’. Keith Vaughan, Journal & Drawings, 1939-1965, Alan Ross London, 1966, p.103
The poignant timing and vividness of these images made perfect material for a Neo-Romantic artist. At this time Vaughan was close to Graham Sutherland and this painting has resonances of Sutherland in its black lines, crescent shaped forms and ochre and white colouring.