OIL PAINTING: In Arcadia, 1886
Harrison's In Arcadia was shown at the 1886 Salon and received enormous critical praise, and its creator was hailed as the successor to Bastien Lepage. Painted at least partly out of doors in an orchard, In Arcadia presented a nude subject on an epic scale, and treated naturalistically rather than heroically. Bastien's pictures of peasant life were grounded in harsh reality. But Harrison took plein airiste painting in a different direction, to a voluptuous sensory experience, the dappled fall of sunlight and languid figures creating a languid vision of perfection. Its conception is reminiscent of Old Master paintings of the Golden Age, with nymphs and satyrs besporting themselves in an ideal landscape; but Harrison has created something dynamically different, entirely radical in its naturalistic approach, advanced technique and treatment of warm light and shade.
The New English Art Club painters centered around Sickert and Steer greatly admired it, and it was included in their second exhibition in London in 1887. Here critics saw it as symptomatic of impressionist tendencies at the NEAC, although the Art Journal praised it briefly, writing "Mr A. Harrison's large canvas from the Salon ... is one of the most striking and important paintings owing to its size, powerful execution, and large nude figures", 1887.