In the first of these two articles showing a selection of paintings of autumn, I ended with some atmospheric paintings from the late nineteenth century, including two by the Czech artist Jakub Schikaneder. As I promised, there are more to come from him.
In Dimming (1909), Schikaneder takes his soft atmospheric style out into the country, there to capture dusk, with the full moon hanging over a wooded ridge in the early autumn.
Autumn Red (1910) shows a lonely figure at dusk, with a fiery orange slash through the sky. It’s autumn, with the leaves starting to turn copper-brown and falling onto the water behind her. She stands on a narrow grassy strip between that water and a high wall, which bears the marks of old climbers. Dotted around her are small white and large red flowers.
The last of these paintings by Schikaneder is his undated Riverbank with Tram, most probably set in Prague during a damp and foggy autumn evening.
For the next autumn views, we travel north to the remote fjords of Norway, where Nikolai Astrup had fallen in love with Rousseau’s naïve style, leading him to understate or omit aerial perspective, and to incorporate multiple perspective projections into the same image.
Astrup’s Farmstead in Jølster, from 1902, shows two women, sheltering from the rain under black umbrellas, walking with a young girl up a muddy path which threads its way through wooden farm buildings. The artist delights in the colourful patches which make up each of the turf roofs, and contrasting puddles on the grass.
Going to the Mill (c 1900-05) is an essay on watermills, pictured in perfect rainy milling weather, with the streams in spate during the autumn. The man and his son are taking a sack of grain up to one of those mills – possibly the small shed seen in the centre distance – to grind flour for the family’s baking.
Willard Metcalf’s Early Autumn from 1905 is an early example of his fresh and successful style which he adopted in the middle of his career.
In the first article, I showed a painting of Autumn from about 1612-15 by Joos de Momper, which is unusual for showing the progression of the season across the single view. It’s not unique though, as a similar technique was used nearly three centuries later by Evelyn De Morgan, in The Cadence of Autumn (1905).
Five women are shown in a frieze, against a rustic background. From the left, one holds a basket of grapes and other fruit, two are putting marrows, apples, pears and other fruit into a large net bag, held between them. The fourth crouches down from a seated position, her hands grasping leaves, and the last is stood, letting the wind blow leaves out from each hand. They wear loose robes which are coloured (from the left) lilac, gold, brown, green, and black.
The landscape behind them contains a watermill and surrounding buildings. At the left, the trees are heavy with fruit and the fields either green or ripe corn. At the right, the trees are barren, and the landscape hilly and more wintry. Soft blue-white patches of mist are visible in the foreground on the right.
Like de Momper’s, this shows the procession of time and the changes seen in autumn, reflected in the colours of robes (De Morgan used such ‘colour coding’ elsewhere), the activities, fruits and dead leaves, and the progression across the background.
I finish with three paintings of the American countryside in fall.
Edward Charles Volkert’s Autumn Afternoon is one of his wonderful pastoral animal paintings, which may show a field in his native Ohio, or possibly near Old Lyme in Connecticut, where he moved in around 1920.
Of all George Bellows’ paintings, I find his late landscapes the most moving and intriguing. He painted The White Horse (1922) on a farm near Woodstock. Seen in the fall colours of November, the scene is heightened by the light cast through broken shower clouds, making the white horse look almost supernatural.
Grant Wood, best-known for his iconic painting American Gothic, (1930) made Fall Plowing the following year. This shows a recently-developed walking plough with a steel ploughshare, which had become an important advance in cultivating the prairie in Iowa. Wood based this on a view near Viola, Iowa.
Autumn or fall is a season of great contrasts, one reason why it’s often a favourite. I hope this selection of paintings has been equally contrasting, from the monochrome stubble of Daubigny, through the rain and mud of Astrup and Schikaneder to Grant Wood’s rolling fields.