If you live in the northern half of the globe, March 20th is officially the first day of spring. After a long, cold winter, the return of blue skies and warmer temperatures is a cause for great celebration! It’s the time for snow to melt away, for migrating birds to fly home again, and for hibernating animals who have been sleeping all winter to wake up. Tiny white snowdrops and golden daffodils start to appear, and soon the trees are covered in blossom! Spring is definitely my favourite time of the year.
Many artists through the ages have tried to capture the delight and beauty of spring. During the Renaissance in Italy, the painter Sandro Botticelli created a giant work of art called Primavera (“spring” in Italian). In it he shows the goddess of spring in an orange grove surrounded by nymphs. Above her you can see a little winged boy with a bow and arrow. He is not just any naughty child – he is Cupid, and anyone who is hit by his little arrow will fall in love.
About 100 years later, another Italian artist, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, created strange portraits of people whose heads seemed to be made of vegetables or flowers! His version of Primavera is a woman with roses for ears, a leafy green dress and all sorts of wild flowers for hair.
In the 1890s a Czech artist called Alfons Mucha became very successful in Paris painting beautiful women in flowing gowns for theatrical posters, book illustrations and advertisements in magazines and newspapers. His style was very distinctive and it soon became known as Art Nouveau (“new art”). Mucha’s version of spring (Le Printemps) is typical of his most famous work.
This curvy, elongated style was adopted by other artists across Europe, including the famous Glasgow couple Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald. They designed beautiful interiors using similar elongated female forms in their decorative panels. A good example of this is Margaret Macdonald’s piece, The May Queen, which also has a spring theme!
But it was not only artists whose work was inspired by the coming of spring. Antonio Vivaldi, an Italian composer who lived over 300 years ago, wrote a beautiful piece of music (now very famous) called The Four Seasons. In the section called Spring he recreated the sound of wild thunderstorms and gently melting snow. If you want to listen to Vivaldi’s amazing musical Spring, click HERE.
Perhaps as you listen you will be inspired to create your own spring work of art!