Tag Archives: Spring

Spring and the Passing of Time

Leon Wyczolkowski, Spring

Leon Wyczolkowski, Spring

Spring is more than a season; it’s a marker of time passing.

In this picture Spring is blowing in through the open window, an onrush of light and wind into the darker room.  The curtains billow, the book’s page blows up – it looks as if someone was just sitting in the chair, has just moved away.  The foliage of the tree outside gleams with the same light that falls on and outlines the chair.  That light also falls on the windows and over the window sill and spills down the wall.  The windows reflect the scene outside, bringing it inside.

The painting is of Spring seen through the window in the artist’s studio.  The artist is Leon Wyczolkowski, a distinguished and prolific Polish artist, graphic artist, illustrator and teacher.  He was someone who explored and was influenced by different techniques and styles as he developed his own. This painting was created toward the end of his life.

In it the techniques and knowledge he developed allow him to share with us a mature view of Spring.  Here it is a light-filled, turbulent, restless season that speaks to the artist’s soul.  In it we see the artist’s world opening up to nature’s winds and colours and changing light. And yet there is that empty chair.  It speaks to me of both welcome and regret.

Welcome for the new season; regret for the passing of time, looking ahead to the time the artist will no longer sit in that chair and look out.

Seeing Spring Softly

Alfred Sisley, Small Meadows in Spring

Alfred Sisley, Small Meadows in Spring

It’s a blue sky with powder puff clouds, reflected in the river running by.  Some of the trees are in leaf, some in bud, some in bloom.  The grass is spring green.  A few people are enjoying the spring day – they look almost like part of the landscape, except for the woman, head down, coming toward us.

Alfred Sisley loved painting landscapes. He painted the textures of clouds in the skies, the shimmer of light on water, the shapes of trees, the bulk of buildings and the changing colours of the weather and the seasons.  To look at his work is to see the beauty of all these things, and to see the care and love with which he observed the world around him.

What we don’t see is that  Alfred Sisley was one of those people who never quite fit.  He was an Englishman who was born in France and lived there all his life, yet never officially became a French national.  His paintings were not quite conventional for his times, not quite impressionistic. His work was accepted by the official Salon, and he exhibited with the Impressionists who had been rejected by the Salon. Born into a prosperous family, he found himself living in poverty after his father’s business failed.  Although he spent his life working as an artist, his paintings only began to sell later in his life and never sold for as much as the work of his contemporaries.

Yet he kept on painting and observing.  He saw his purpose as giving life to the art he created, using color, form and surface, and through everything that happened to him he held fast to that purpose.  We are the beneficiaries – he left us many beautiful paintings to enjoy, including this image of a soft Spring day.

The Beauty of Spring

Alfons Mucha, Spring, 1896

Alfons Mucha, Spring (1896)

A beautiful young woman stands, delicately clothed, almost interwoven into the trees and flowers behind her.  She holds a musical instrument, a delicately bent twig strung like a harp; birds linger on it, ready to sing.  Her face looks both radiant and intent on the music she is playing.  Her long hair drifts around her, its shade echoed in the trees behind.  Her gown is both caught up in a branch beside her and underfoot.  Everything is woven together; the curve of her instrument carries into the curve of the hip it rests against; the swirl of her sleeve is echoed in the swirl of her hair.  The flowers in her hair look like the flowers in the trees behind.

The artist who created her is Alfons Mucha.  His rise to popularity began when, finding himself in the right place at the right time, he was given the opportunity to create a poster for Sarah Bernhardt’s appearance in Gismonda.  The poster he produced was so different from other posters at the time that it attracted immediate attention.  Bernhardt loved it and gave him a contract to work with her.  This established his reputation, though it was the work he did after that maintained it.

He created the image above, Spring, for a series of four panneaux or art posters depicting the seasons.  You can see echoes of the posters he created for Bernhardt in the way it focuses on the young woman and makes her the center of the picture.  You can see the influence of the folk art he grew up with, full of curving lines and beautiful patterns.  You can see the influence of nature in the curving lines of trees and flowers.  You can see his desire to create something beautiful for others.

As he brought together his ideas about art with the skills, ideas and knowledge he had developed, Mucha did not so much set out to change or challenge the practice of art as to follow his own vision.  He began as a young man from the small town of Ivancice in what is now the Czech Republic.  Then he became part of something much bigger.  He became part of the change that was sweeping through French art, the movement that became known as Art Nouveau.

His vision matched the times.  He created beautiful images for a world hungry for beauty, many of them in formats that could be shared widely.  And now, in a world still hungry for beauty, we can share them too.

To learn more about the Alfons Mucha, visit the Mucha Foundation.