How the Fall Season Influences Art

How the Fall Season Influences Art

As we make our way through October and early Autumn, the fiery Fall colours begin to transform the landscape, and the spectacular scenery and changing colours of our local New Forest National Park is hard to surpass.

The woodlands and hedgerows are abundant with colour, from richly hued ripened berries and gleaming conkers, to the glorious glow of leaves as their green colouring diminishes to reveal their red and yellow tints below.

It is hard to ignore such vivid visual reminders of our ever changing environment, and it's no surprise, then, that the advance of the seasons has long been a source of inspiration for creative types.

Autumn demonstrates the changeability of existence - the eternal cycle of life and death, and Emily Brontë’s poem Fall, Leaves, Fall describes with lyrical imagery the beauty which can be found in letting go of the pain of loss and in embracing the change and balance that the new season brings:

"Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day."

Poets, musicians and painters have all been moved by the season throughout history. You may recognise 16th Century Mannerist painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s curious cornucopic portrait Autumn, from 1573 in which he uses seasonal elements to comprise his composition (his previous seasonal pieces Spring, Summer and Winter were created 10 years earlier in 1563 and followed the same artistic structure).

This richly atmospheric oil painting utilises the Mannerist portrayal of the relationship between humans and nature by fusing still life and portraiture. It depicts a male head study formed from a glut of autumnal harvest fruits and vegetables including rosy apples, undulating gourds, twisting grape vines and plump fungi. This beautifully abundant painting can be seen hanging on the walls of the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Austrian Expressionist painter Egon Schiele, more usually known for using themes of eroticism in his work, created the eye-catching piece Four Trees in 1917, the style of which transforms its standard subject matter of a simple landscape into a vibrant and expressive allegory. One of the central trees looks distinctly unhealthy, whilst the three russet hued trees on the outer edge of the composition are fuller and more rich with colour. It has been the subject of some discussion that the artist's message was to allude to the 'healthier' approach to life as being on the outside of society rather than following a more mainstream route. The swirling yellow and orange sunset sky reflects the influence of the autumnal colour palette.

In 1891 Impressionist painter Claude Monet painted Stacks of Wheat (End of Day, Autumn). It formed part of his 1890-1891 series depicting the towering 20ft haystacks outside his farmhouse in Giverny at various stages of the day and throughout the changing seasons, in order to demonstrate the altering effects of changing light and atmospheric conditions on an enduring motif. The warm tones and diffused light beautifully portray the heavy air and low light of the fall season.

The call of the wild and influence of the seasons continues to stir artists to this day, with contemporary paintings, like Trust Me by Josie Appleby, abundant in its rejoicing of the Fall cast, and two horses of noble stature standing proudly against the rich russet background, washed with deep amber light.

Contemporary artist Giles Ward uses strong punches of colour to elevate his portrayals of the natural world, and has chosen a fittingly autumnal vibrant orange background with which to compose a striking and colourfully dynamic depiction of a group of fish in Five Sprats. Visit our website to find this, and the rest of his dazzling marine life themed limited editions.

You may be lucky enough to see hedgehogs snuffling in the undergrowth for bugs and worms to fatten up on before their hibernation this Autumn. The charming limited edition print Prickles by popular animal artist Aaminah Snowdon illustrates an adorable hedgehog parent and offspring sharing a tender glance, and Adam Binder’s petite bronze sculpture Hedgehog V elegantly depicts a young hedgehog rolled into a ball and features beautiful russet patination. The classically understated tones and earthy colour palette are perfect for depicting the elusive wildlife subjects. 

Sam Toft print When Everything is Unfolding Just the Way it Should is a sweetly melancholic image of an embracing couple (Sam's infamous Mr and Mrs Mustard) and their canine companion enjoying the solace under a vibrant orange canopy of a tree in Autumn. The narrative composition and use of Fall colours perfectly echos the sentiment of the autumn season - appearing to be reflective yet hopeful. This wonderful print is one of many available in Sam's collection on our website.

We hope this has inspired you to make the most of this spectacular time of year. Take a walk through the colourful trees, with the crunch of leaves beneath your feet, and nip of first frost in the air.

Maybe you'll pay a visit to the stunning New Forest. And if you do, be sure to pop in to our Bridge Street Gallery to enjoy a browse through our collection of sculpture, limited edition prints and original paintings.



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