The 10 best summer paintings

#StoMouseio selects the paintings that best read, encircle and underline “Summer”.

1. Geogres Seurat, Une baignade à Asnières, 1884

Bathers at Asnières (French: Une Baignade, Asnières) is an oil-on-canvas painting by the French artist Georges Pierre Seurat, the first of his two masterpieces on the monumental scale. The canvas is of a suburban, but placid Parisian riverside scene. Isolated figures, with their clothes piled sculpturally on the riverbank, together with trees, austere boundary walls and buildings, and the River Seine are presented in a formal layout. A combination of complex brushstroke techniques, and a meticulous application of contemporary colour theory bring to the composition a sense of gentle vibrancy and timelessness.

Geogres Seurat, Une baignade à Asnières, 1884

Geogres Seurat, Une baignade à Asnières, 1884

2. Vincent van Gogh, A Wheatfield with Cypresses, July 1889

A Wheatfield with Cypresses (occasionally called A Cornfield with Cypresses) is any of three similar 1889 oil paintings by Vincent van Gogh, as part of his wheat field series. All were executed at the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole mental asylum at Saint-Rémy near Arles, France, where Van Gogh was voluntarily a patient from May 1889 to May 1890. The works were inspired by the view from the window at the asylum towards the Alpilles mountains.

Vincent van Gogh, A Wheatfield with Cypresses,   July 1889

3. Winslow Homer, Summer night, 1890

Winslow Homer started his career as a graphic reporter during the American Civil War, before going on to paint scenes of army life and the rural world with the Naturalist precision which then prevailed in American painting. After a stay in Paris, Homer used an Impressionist palette for a while then developed a personal style midway between Realism and Symbolism. Summer Night perfectly expresses this synthesis and may be considered one of the first masterpieces of American art still in search of its identity.

This nocturnal scene by the sea transcends observed reality through a keen sense of poetry and mystery. The light and shade effects blur shapes, while the ghostly silhouettes of two women dance on the shore. Although it may well have been influenced by Courbet’s Waves, the lyricism tinged with mysticism expressed by Homer helped develop a feeling for nature that is peculiarly American.

Winslow Homer, Summer night, 1890

Winslow Homer, Summer night, 1890

 

4. Mary Cassatt, The Boating Party, 1893/1894

This bold composition reveals the influence of the flat, patterned surfaces, simplified color, and unusual angles of Japanese prints, which enjoyed a huge vogue in Paris in the late 1800s. The dark figure of the man compresses the picture onto the flat plane of the canvas, and the horizon is pushed to the top, collapsing a sense of distance. Our higher vantage point gives us an oblique view into the boat. Its form is divided into decorative shapes by the intersection of its horizontal supports.

After 1893, Cassatt began to spend many summers on the Mediterranean coast at Antibes. Under its intense sun, she began to experiment with harder, more decorative color. Here, citron and blue carve strong arcs that divide the picture into assertive, almost abstract, shapes. This picture, with its bold geometry and decorative patterning of the surface, positions Cassatt with such post–impressionist painters as Gauguin and Van Gogh

This painting, one of her most ambitious, was the centerpiece of Cassatt’s first solo exhibition in the United States in 1895. Her contacts with wealthy friends in the United States did much to bring avant–garde French painting into this country.

Mary Cassatt, The Boating Party, 1893/1894

Mary Cassatt, The Boating Party, 1893/1894

5. Michael Ancher: A Stroll on the Beach 1896

Michael Peter Ancher (9 June 1849 – 19 September 1927) was a Danish realist artist. He is remembered above all for his paintings of fishermen and other scenes from the Danish fishing community in Skagen.

Michael Ancher: A Stroll on the Beach 1896

Michael Ancher: A Stroll on the Beach 1896

6. Duncan Grant, Bathing, 1911

This was painted in the summer of 1911 as part of a decorative scheme for the dining room at the Borough Polytechnic, at the Elephant and Castle, London. The theme of the room’s decoration was ‘London on Holiday’, and Grant responded by painting this idealised panorama of seven male nudes bathing. The nudes also represented the continuous movement of a single figure. Their bodies, like the water, are stylised to heighten the decorative effect of the image. Grant’s depiction of the male body was greatly influenced by Michelangelo’s ink studies and in particular his cartoon ‘Battle of Cascina’. The celebration of the male nude was underpinned by both artists by a personal homoerotic fascination.

Duncan Grant, Bathing, 1911

Duncan Grant, Bathing, 1911

7. Nikolaos Lytras, The Straw Hat, 1925

The straw hat is an oil painting by Nikolaos Lytras created in 1925, and is considered as one of the most daring and impressive works of early Greek Modernism. It is exhibited at the National Gallery of Greece

Nikolaos Lytras, The Straw Hat, 1925

Nikolaos Lytras, The Straw Hat, 1925

8. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Bathers at Moritzburg 1909–26

From 1909 to 1911 Kirchner and other members of the Brücke group spent part of each summer at the Moritzburg Lakes near Dresden. Their relaxed, communal lifestyle and nude bathing reflected a cult of nature that was growing in Germany at the time. The exaggerated colours in this painting, contrasting yellow-orange flesh with blue water, emphasise the nudity of the figures. The original effect, however, may have been too extreme, as Kirchner repainted parts of the picture in 1926, making the colours lighter and the surface of the painting more even.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Bathers at Moritzburg 1909–26

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Bathers at Moritzburg 1909–26

9. Edward Hopper, Summertime, 1943

In Summertime, 1943, Hopper documents the economic upswing caused by the war, the mood of anticipation that was beginning to affect the nation, and the new relaxed morals of youth in this country. Summertime presents a young girl in a see-through dress standing outside a tenement. The outfit, obviously new, refers to the increased prosperity of the nation, which at last had been able to put aside many of the difficulties of the Depression.

Edward Hopper, Summertime, 1943

Edward Hopper, Summertime, 1943

10. David Bomberg, Trees in Sun, Cyprus, 1948

Trees in Sun was not intended to be a topographically accurate depiction of a particular part of the Cypriot countryside. Instead, as with his earlier landscape paintings, Bomberg sought to reveal the underlying structure of the land and give a sense of its character and spirit. The fiery colours, the range of textures and vigorous marks imbue the painting with an overwhelming sense of movement and vitality that is in keeping with Bomberg’s own view of nature and how it should be represented. In the third Borough Group exhibition held at the Arcade Gallery, London in the spring of 1949, there were as many as ten paintings by Bomberg and among them were some of his Cyprus paintings. The artist and critic, Percy Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957), reviewing the exhibition praised Bomberg and declared that the group’s members were ‘rip-roaring flaming romantics’ (quoted in Cork 1987, p.280).

Most of Bomberg’s Cyprus pictures were painted at the Monastery of Ayios Chrisostomos, where the family stayed for part of the holiday, but Trees in Sun was painted en plein air during a day trip from Lapithos. On his return from Cyprus, Bomberg resumed his teaching at Borough Polytechnic, but did not paint again for another four years.

David Bomberg, Trees in Sun, Cyprus, 1948

David Bomberg, Trees in Sun, Cyprus, 1948

 

 

 

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