The Start of the Year: Paintings of Spring 2

Grant Wood (1891–1942), Spring in Town (1941), oil on wood, 66 x 62.2 cm, Swope Art Museum, Terre Haute, IN. Wikimedia Commons.

In the first of these two articles looking at paintings of Spring, I had reached the end of the nineteenth century and Pissarro’s cityscapes of central Paris. Among Renoir’s late landscapes are several seasonal views.

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Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919), Springtime in Essoyes (c 1900), oil on canvas, 50.1 x 62.2 cm, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN. Wikimedia Commons.

Springtime in Essoyes from about 1900 shows the canopies of the large trees developing their fresh Spring foliage, and is a good example of Renoir’s landscapes from this period.

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Francisco Pradilla Ortiz (1848–1921), Niebla de primavera en Italia (The Fog of Spring in Italy) (1907), oil on canvas, 65.4 × 94.6 cm, location not known. Wikimedia Commons.

Francisco Pradilla doesn’t seem to have painted many pure landscapes, but The Fog of Spring in Italy from 1907 was probably inspired by one of his visits to that country. His style is realist in detail, but away from the figures is far looser and more painterly than in his earlier history paintings.

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Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Early Spring (1908), oil on canvas, 87.6 x 132.1 cm, The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. The Athenaeum.

Pierre Bonnard painted Early Spring in 1908, shortly after his return to France from a visit to North Africa. The children are probably from the Terrasse family, close friends, who are enjoying their garden as it comes into bloom in the better weather.

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Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), The Small House, Spring Evening (1909), oil on canvas, 50.8 x 61.5 cm, Private collection. The Athenaeum.

The Small House, Spring Evening is an unusual landscape which Bonnard painted in 1909. It offsets the rich blossom on the trees at the left against the plain wall of a house, seen in the failing light.

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Henri-Jean Guillaume Martin (1860–1943), Thatched Cottages in Spring (1910), media and dimensions not known, Musée d’Unterlinden, Colmar, France. Image by Gzen92, via Wikimedia Commons.

The French Divisionist Henri Martin painted deep in the countryside of Labastide-du-Vert, to the north of the city of Toulouse, in the southwest of France. During a visit there in 1910, he painted Thatched Cottages in Spring. When war broke out four years later, he retreated to live here.

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John William Waterhouse (1849–1917), A Song of Springtime (1913), oil on canvas, 71.5 x 92.4 cm, Private collection. Wikimedia Commons.

In Britain, those who had been influenced by or associated with the Pre-Raphaelites continued to refer to classical mythology in their images of Spring. In JW Waterhouse’s late Song of Springtime (1913), he stripped away some narrative references, but shows Flora with breasts bared, and a skirtful of daffodils or narcissi, perhaps a reference to Poussin’s figure of Narcissus in The Empire of Flora. The Graces have here been replaced by young children.

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Henri Le Sidaner (1862–1939), The Table, Spring (1913), oil on canvas, 60.5 x 73.5 cm, location not known. Wikimedia Commons.

When Henri Le Sidaner started to paint his long series of deserted laid-out tables, he included seasonal links. The Table, Spring from 1913 is an early example, with a range of drinks laid out for one person in the foreground of a gently rolling country landscape in Spring.

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Tom Thomson (1877–1917), Early Spring, Canoe Lake (1917), oil on panel, 21.1 x 26.7 cm, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, ON. The Athenaeum.

Early Spring in North America isn’t as lush as that in much of Europe. The Canadian landscape painter Tom Thomson’s Early Spring, Canoe Lake from 1917 shows bare patches appearing in the snow on the ground, and wonderful blue shadows.

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Henry Tonks (1862-1937), Spring Days (1926-8), oil on canvas, 86.4 x 81.3 cm, The Tate Gallery (Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1931), London. © The Tate Gallery and Photographic Rights © Tate (2016), CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported), http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/tonks-spring-days-n04600

Indoors in London, Henry Tonks painted two young women lit by shafts of sunlight in Spring Days (1926-8).

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Granville Redmond (1871–1935), Malibu Coast, Spring (c 1929), oil on canvas, 50.8 x 63.5 cm, location not known. Wikimedia Commons.

Warmer still in California, Granville Redmond’s Malibu Coast, Spring from about 1929 shows the 21 mile beach of this coastal resort thirty miles to the west of central Los Angeles, with golden poppies and purple lupines in full flower. At this time, Malibu was only just starting development, with the small Malibu Colony and a ceramic tile factory which had been funded by May K Rindge, owner of the land.

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Sava Šumanović (1896–1942), Spring in the Shida Gardens (1934), further details not known. Wikimedia Commons.

When the Serbian painter Sava Šumanović was living in the town of Šid in Serbia in 1934, he painted Spring in the Shida Gardens, which is decidedly post-Impressionist and perhaps most influenced by Cézanne. Šumanović was one of the many Serbs murdered in the genocide of 1942.

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Grant Wood (1891–1942), Spring in Town (1941), oil on wood, 66 x 62.2 cm, Swope Art Museum, Terre Haute, IN. Wikimedia Commons.

My final view of Spring is perhaps closest to modern life. Grant Wood’s Spring in Town, from 1941, is a typically rural Midwest scene with locals out in the warm sunshine, tending to their yards. Wood is best-known for his American Gothic from 1930, which was also set in Iowa.

Wherever you are, I wish you a sunny and peaceful Spring.