Here are some possible paintings for Autumn art appreciation and picture study. Just click on the small photos of the artwork to open a larger version for easier viewing.
Autumn Leaves, John Millais 1855
[Excerpt] “… Millais decided to embark on a painting that was beautiful in its own right without any attempt to tell a story. His models were four young girls, all under 13 years of age, chosen for their youth and beauty. They were to be shown standing around a pile of gently smoldering autumn leaves which they had just collected from their garden. The painting, which became known as Autumn Leaves, was designed to evoke a mood and a feeling of the transience of life and beauty – all is doomed to eventual decay, even the greatest innocence and beauty is overwhelmed by the passage of time. The painting is considered to be Millais’s masterpiece. He wanted the picture to awaken the deepest religious reflections with its solemn air and restrained coloring. The work was influenced personally by Alfred Lord Tennyson, one of whose works he was illustrating at the time, in particular by his poem The Princess.”
Wheat Field Under Threatening Skies, Vincent Van Gogh 1890
[Excerpt] “Contrary to popular myth, [this] is not Van Gogh’s final work. Admittedly, it does make for a neatly wrapped interpretive gift if the painting really were Van Gogh’s final work before his suicide. The painting is, without question, turbulent and certainly conveys a sense of loneliness in the fields – a powerful image of Van Gogh as defeated and solitary artist in his final years. Furthermore, both the popular films Lust for Life and Vincent and Theo rewrite history and depict this painting as Van Gogh’s last – with more of an interest in dramatic effect than historical accuracy.”
Autumn, Mary Cassatt 1880
[Excerpt] “Today Mary Cassatt is probably best known for her portrayals of the intimate activities of urban women, including reading, knitting, and taking tea, and the subject of the mother and child, which dominated her work after about 1893. Like Degas, she appears to have repeated particular themes in order to master various techniques. Practical reasons and considerations of social decorum also may have dictated her choice of subjects, who were most often members of her own social circle engaged in familiar activities.”
The Harvesters, Pieter Bruegel the Elder
[Excerpt] “Through his remarkable sensitivity to nature’s workings, Bruegel created a watershed in the history of Western art, suppressing the religious and iconographic associations of earlier depictions of the seasons in favor of an unidealized vision of landscape. The Harvesters probably represented the months of August and September in the context of the series. It shows a ripe field of wheat that has been partially cut and stacked, while in the foreground a number of peasants pause to picnic in the relative shade of a pear tree. Work continues around them as a couple gathers wheat into bundles, three men cut stalks with scythes, and several women make their way through the corridor of a wheat field with stacks of grain over their shoulders. The vastness of the panorama across the rest of the composition reveals that Bruegel’s emphasis is not on the labors that mark the time of the year, but on the atmosphere and transformation of the landscape itself.”
Early Autumn, Montclair, George Inness 1891
[Excerpt] “In the painting Early Autumn, Montclair, the landscape appears non-specific and the centered foreground trees are spot lit even though the scene appears to be rather fuzzy. Like the Impressionists Inness was a close observer of nature and sought to express the season, weather and light conditions of the locale. But while Inness may have begun his paintings in nature, unlike the Impressionists, he completed his work in his studio relying on his memory and colored by imagination to create his luminous expressions of the spirituality of observed nature.”
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