Susan here. So goes the nursery rhyme, promising that the crazy weather of March and the rain of April will once again lead to balmy spring days filled with flowers and sunshine. Here in the northern hemisphere with just one week left in March, this month we’ve seen everything from clouds, winds, and rain to sunny warmth and even several inches of snow not long ago. Sun or snow, the hyacinths and daffodils are blooming and the tulips are making their way out of the ground. Today, we have rain and winds again, alas – but we've made it through the equinox, so we know winter is done and spring is on its way.
To celebrate the coming of spring, here are some images in honor of the new season – and in honor of March, some images of wind too — not easy to portray in painting or sculpture!
Monet, Spring, 1872, Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. I recently saw this beautiful little Monet again at the Walters Gallery, and up close, it's every bit as gorgeous and evocative of springtime as you can imagine. Monet is perhaps the undisputed master of capturing spring in paint on canvas, in color and texture and light. In this and other paintings it is easy to almost feel the warmth of the sun, the scent of flowers and new grass, and a hint of soft, fresh breezes and scudding clouds.
Monet's gorgeous depiction of Mme. Monet and her son on a windy hill in springtime – in the National Gallery, Washington DC. This painting is just stunning and seems larger than life and filled with springtime breezes.
Above, Monet's depiction of a hillside in springtime, 1873 (Johannesburg Art Gallery). He produced hundreds of views of trees, meadows, and other landscape views in quick studies and more finished work, always with the immediacy of technique that is a hallmark of his style and the Impressionist movement. This one puts you right on the hillside, climbing up beside the flowering bush.
John William Waterhouse, Pre-Raphaelite artist, was a master of atmosphere and romance—and wind! He seems to have particularly loved the challenge – and the beautiful arcs, curves, and shapes – of airy subjects, depicting wind's effect on drapery as it takes on forms of its own. Below, Boreas (the North Wind), 1903 (listed as private collection). It's exquisite, and one of my favorite paintings.
Waterhouse, Windflowers, 1902 (another in a private collection). Here he plays again with a favorite motif – airy beauty, spring winds, draperies, breezes playing hair, and conveying the very real sense of fresh air and springtime.
Above, J.W. Waterhouse, Flora and the Zephyrs, 1898 (private collection) – and below, Thomas Ridgeway Gould, West Wind (Zephyr), marble, 1876, in Rochester. In both paint and stone, depicting an invisible wind is a main focus for the artists and their imagination and skill. What Gould does with stone here is miraculous!
Vincent Van Gogh is another artist fascinated by springtime subjects. He painted numerous versions of orchards and trees in blossom in spring, studying the colors, the light, the movement of breezes through trees. Here's White Orchard, 1888.
This is one of my favorite springtime paintings – Van Gogh's Almond Blossoms, 1890. Almond blossoms were one of his favorite subjects – he painted several versions in studies and finished paintings. This one was meant as a gift for his brother, painted the year that Vincent died.
Spring is here at last! What are you doing to celebrate?