Thursday, May 30, 2019

18C Allegories of Spring - Love & a Child with a Bird Nest

1779 Spring Published by Carington Bowles after John Collet London

In this allegory of Spring, a man holds the hands of a bashful young woman. He points to two doves billing beside him, while a boy on the right plays with a bird's nest, and an old woman looks upset. The cat at the woman's side has his eyes on the tasty chicks in the bird nest.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Spring 5C-6C Female Personification

Bust of Spring ca. 5C– 6C CE Tapestry weave of dyed wools. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This small tapestry panel comes from Egypt. That area had a major weaving (especially linen) industry throughout the ancient and medieval period, which brought the country a great deal of its trade and wealth. Unlike the textiles of other cultures, many of these pieces have been preserved by Egypt's hot, dry climate, which prevents rotting. Personifications of the seasons were thought to represent prosperity.

Historically in many cultures, a female personification or a Spring goddess celebrated the hope of new growth as the decay of winter gave way to Nature's renewal and rebirth.  Spring begins with the first green shoots and explodes into a multitude of beautiful blossoms and promise of good harvest. In ancient times, communities often held festivals to celebrate Spring goddesses who were associated with flowering, growth and fertility of the land.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

1636 Spring & Cherubs by Jan Brueghel the Younger 1601-1678 & Frans Francken the Younger 1581-1642

1636 Jan Brueghel the Younger (Flemish, 1601-1678) Frans Francken the Younger (Flemish, 1581-1642) A remote Landscape Setting with Allegories of the Four Elements

Here 4 seated women representing water, air, earth, & fire are surrounded by a lush landscape. The fish flowing from the water jug & the cornucopia of abundance cradled in the arms of the figure on the right correspond to the tactile elements of water & earth. The birds in the sky & trees & the accoutrements of battle in the foreground correspond to the intangible elements of fire & air. The figures, the still life objects, & the landscape work together as a unified scene, yet two different artists worked to create this painting. Frequent collaborators, the skilled figure painter Frans Francken II painted the women & background figures, & Jan Brueghel the Younger described the landscape.
Jan Brueghel the Younger (Flemish, 1601-1678) Frans Francken the Younger (Flemish, 1581-1642) A remote Landscape Setting with an Allegory of Water and Earth

Such collaboration between artists was common in Antwerp during the 1600s, as artists often specialized in either landscape or figure painting. Flemish artists of the time repeatedly painted representations of the 4 elements, suggesting that it was a popular subject with buyers. Brueghel the Younger depicted the senses, the elements, or the seasons as allegories many times throughout his career, either together or individually. 
1630s. A remote Landscape Setting with Ceres (Allegory of Earth). Landscape by Jan Brueghel the Younger figures after Hendrick van Balen.

Here, earth is represented by the goddess Ceres, who is surrounded with a satyr, putti, & a figure holding a sheaf of wheat. Ceres, whose name means "creator," was the goddess of agriculture, worshiped over a large part of ancient Italy.

Those winged toddlers over Ceres' head in the painting clutching her crown, are they religious cherubs or secular putti?  A putto (pl. putti) is a figure of a human toddler, usually male, often naked with wings, depicted especially in Italian Renaissance & Baroque art. The Latin word "putus" means boy or child. During the early modern period, artist Donatello revived & popularized putti figures in Florence during the 1420s.
Neroccio De' Landi (1447-1500) Two Putti, 1490-1510

In the European culture of the 1400s & 1500s, Cherubs & Putti had distinctly different roles. Biblically, Cherubs & Seraphs (Cherubim & Seraphim) were sacred angels in heaven closest to God. Putti, arose from Greco-Roman classical myths, not the Christian tradition, and were associated with Eros or Cupid as well as with the Muse Erato of lyric & love poetry.
Raphael Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (1483–1520), Sistine Cherubs

As in these paintings, allegorical characters in stories & in art of this period were often located in garden settings. The locus amoenus was one of the traditional locations of epic & chivalric literature. As a literary genre of high culture, romance or chivalric romance is a type of prose & verse narrative that was popular in the aristocratic circles of Medieval & Early Modern Europe.  Locus amoenus (Latin for "pleasant place") is a literary term which generally referring to an idealized place of safety or comfort, usually a beautiful, shady parkland or open woods, sometimes with connotations of Eden. A locus amoenus usually has 3 basic elements: trees, grass, & water.

Often, the locus amoenus garden will be in a remote setting & with only components or suggestions of a more formal, geometric, walled garden. These paintings employ this setting.  The locus amoenus can also be used to highlight the differences between urban & rural life or be a place of refuge from the processes of time & mortality. In some works, such gardens also have overtones of the regenerative powers of human sexuality marked out by flowers, & goddesses of springtime, love, & fertility. Ernst Robert Curtius formulated the concept's definition in his European Literature & the Latin Middle Ages (1953).
About these confusing Breughels - 

Pieter Bruegel (also Brueghel) 1525-1569 was a Netherlandish Renaissance painter & printmaker known for his landscapes & peasant scenes (later called genre painting). From 1559, he dropped the 'h' from his name & signed his paintings as Bruegel.  

Pieter the Elder had 2 sons: Pieter Brueghel the Younger 1564 -1636 & Jan Brueghel the Elder 1568-1625 (both changed their name to Brueghel). Their grandmother, Mayken Verhulst, trained the sons because "the Elder" died when both were very small children. The older brother, Pieter Brueghel, copied his father's style but without the same great talent. Jan was more successful, as he turned to the Baroque style & collaborated with many fine artists.

Pieter Brueghel the Younger or Pieter Bruegel the Younger (before 1616 he signed his name as 'Brueghel' & after 1616 as 'Breughel') 1564 -1636 was a Flemish painter, known for numerous copies after his father Pieter Bruegel the Elder's work as well as his original compositions. The large output of his studio, which produced for the local & export market, contributed to the international spread of his father's imagery.

Jan Brueghel the Elder 1568-1625 was a Flemish painter, son of Pieter Bruegel the Elder & father of Jan Brueghel the Younger 1601-1678. Many of his paintings are collaborations in which figures by other painters were placed in landscapes painted by Jan Brueghel; in other works, Brueghel painted the figures into another artist's landscape or architectural interior. The most famous of his collaborators was Peter Paul Rubens who collaborated on about 25 paintings.


Jan Brueghel the Younger 1601-1678 was a Flemish Baroque painter. Jan the Younger's best works are his extensive landscapes, either under his own name or made for other artists such as Hendrick van Balen as backgrounds.  He collaborated with a number of prominent artists including Rubens, Hendrick van Balen (1575–1632), Adriaen Stalbemt (1580–1682), Lucas Van Uden (1596–1672), David Teniers the Younger, and his father-in-law Abraham Janssens. His pupils were his older sons Abraham , 1631-1690, Philips, & Jan Peeter 1628-1664, his nephew Jan van Kessel, & his younger brother Ambrosius. 

Monday, May 27, 2019

1754 Allegory of Spring - In a Garden

1754 Spring from The Four Seasons published by Thomas Major London.

People appear to work in the walled sunken garden behind the group. A man hands a flower to a young woman sitting on a terrace with her attendant standing behind them.  A boy at right has a parrot perched on his hand.  They are in a garden with a statue of a Venus & an arch at left, through which a couple can be seen in an embrace. Plants in pots dot the area around the group.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

1758 Allegory of Spring in a Garden

1758 Spring from The Four Seasons  After Nicolas Lancret by John Simon. Here is a garden with a fountain & a birdbath lying on the ground, where a young man holding a spade talks to a young woman holding a basket of flowers, while another woman is watering plants.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

1500s Spring Sheep Washing by Peasants - A Spectator Sport & Picnic for some Elites

In the style of Jacob Grimmer (Dutch, 1525-6-1590) Landscape with a Picnic and Spring Sheep-Dipping.  Sheep washing often was not popular with the men working in the water, although apparently the activity was greatly enjoyed by spectators who eagerly anticipated accidental dunkings or watery chases.

For many centuries sheep have been washed in the spring & early summer, before shearing, to clean the fleece of the dirt, grit & grease which inevitably build up over the winter months. It should not be confused with the chemical sheep dipping which is a more recent practice, begun in the 19C, aimed at controlling parasitic infestation. Sheep washing usually involved driving the flock through a fenced off section of running water. Many localities had a traditional site for sheep washing, most were on local rivers or pools, but some villages used the mill pond or even a suitable stretch of a seaside beach. The men would spend hours waist high in cold water & each animal had to be totally immersed & scrubbed.
Jacob Grimmer (Dutch, 1525-6-1590) Landscape with Spring Sheep-Dipping Detail A woman helps wash the sheep in the water.

Able Grimmer (Flemish artist, c.1570–c.1619) Sheep Washing. A woman out of the pond holds a sheep.

Able Grimmer (Flemish artist, c.1570–c.1619) Four Seasons - Spring Sheep Dipping. Women help tend the sheep on the side of the water.

Friday, May 24, 2019

1745 Allegory of Spring in a Garden

1745 Spring from The Four Seasons Les Quatre Saisons after Nicolas Lancret published in France Herein a garden with a fountain & a birdbath lying on the ground, a young man holding a spade talks to a young woman holding a basket of flowers, while another woman on the right is watering plants.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

1671 Allegories of Spring- In a Garden

1671 Spring from The Four Seasons by Matthias Scheits (German artist c 1625 - 1700) Landscape with 5 putti in a landscape playing with birds.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

1660 Allegory of Spring- In a Garden

1660 Spring from The Four Seasons by Jean Leblond 1605-1666. Here a couple sit on a turf seat under a tree in a garden setting.The young woman is holding flowers in her right hand and placing her left hand on the man's thigh.  The man appears to be holding a staff in his left hand. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

1650s Allegory of Spring- In a Garden

1650s Spring from The Four Seasons by Jonas Umbach (German artist c 1624 - 1700) Four putti in a garden with a fountain in background: one putti is being crowned with a flower wreath.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Spring Boating Party Gathering Green Branches

Sebastian Vrancx (Flemish artist, 1573-1647) The Four Seasons - Spring Boating Party Gathering Green Branches

Sunday, May 19, 2019

17C Spring in a Garden

Crispin de Passe (1565-1637), The Four Seasons - Spring. This couple is celebrating Spring just outside the fenced garden, but they are surely surrounded by a landscape of earthly delights.  A goat, sheep, dog accompany them, and birds, caged & wild, fill the air with bird songs.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

1500s Spring - in a Garden

Jacob Grimmer (Flemish artist, 1525-1590) Allegory of the Four Seasons - Spring. Here the gentry seem to be gathering to celebrate the arrival of spring, while the peasants work in the gardens behind & husband the animals.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Time to Stop & Smell the Roses (or perhaps a trout lily)

Ulysses Aldrovandus, De Quadripedibus Aldrovandus(1522-1605) Canis Gallicus 2 

18C Spring

1750 Spring Published by Robert Sayer London

Here Spring is once again depicted as a fashionably-dressed young woman with flowers in her hair, picking a rose from a bush on the right, holding others in her apron, She is resting her elbow on a parapet overlooking a garden. In the background, a man is leaning against a garden balustrade and a couple stand in front of a domed garden temple.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

18C Allegories of Spring - Love & Bird Nests

1796 Spring Published by George Thompson London

This depiction of Spring shows a family on a river bank.  The man is holding a fishing rod and displying a fish caught on the line, while the woman opens a wicker basket full of others. The little girl stands holding a basket of flowers, while the little boy kneels in the foreground, feeding birds in a nest in his hat. Behind them a team is ploughing in the background to right.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

18C Allegories of Spring - Love & Bird Nests

1785 Probably published in Britain. Here a young man is handing a birds' nest to a young woman. He has one hand on her shoulder as she accepts the nest.  She is collecting spring flowers in her apron. The couple is passing by another woman kneeling beside a basket of flowers and hold up a garland for the couple to see. Men are sowing grain in fields in the background to left.

Monday, May 13, 2019

1600 Allegory of Spring- In a Garden

1600 Spring from The Four Seasons Jan Saenredam (Dutch printmaker, c 1565-1607) Here a young couple pick flowers & delight over tiny chicks in a bird nest.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

1600 Historical Allegories of Spring Gather around a Garden

1600 From The Four Seasons; Martius, Aprilis, Maius published by Joan Baptista Vrints. A Spring Landscape with a man playing the lute accompanied by woman holding flowers in her hand; a boat on the water collecting branches; with farming and gardening activities in background.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time.

Fire is a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants mark the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after peforming a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Some believed during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic.

Friday, May 10, 2019

17C Spring Boating Parties - Making Music & Gathering Newly Green Branches

1660 Published by Matthew Collings; After Crispijn de Passe the Elder; After Maarten de Vos. May; boat with two couples collecting green branches, drinking, and making music.   The branches of new leaves decorating the boat celebrate the regeneration of spring & fertility.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

16C Spring Boating Parties - Making Music & Gathering Newly Green Branches

1515 Da Costa Hours, in Latin Illuminated by Simon Bening (1484–1561) Belgium, Bruges, May Boating Party. Collecting green branches & playing music.

In May, during the 16C, ladies & gentlemen often participated in traditional May festivities, such as couples heading for the woods to collect flowers & green branches to decorate their homes. It was a celebration of a return to life & fertility.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

16C Spring Boating Parties - Making Music & Gathering Newly Green Branches

May, from Book of Hours (Latin), Use of Rome (the 'Golf Book'). Netherlandish (Bruges), c. 1540. BL Golf Book1 f22 MS Add 24098, fol. 22v. May Boating Party on a River Barge on the Bruges canal. This depiction, representing the month of May, shows men & women collecting newly green branches to carry home in both the boat & on horseback. Those in the boat welcome Spring with music as well.  May, from Book of Hours (Latin), a book of hours, a collection of devotional texts for private prayer. Books of hours were very popular between the 13th & 16th centuries. Each one was unique because it was written & illustrated according to the needs & desires of the person who commissioned it.  This Golf Book was produced by Flemish artist Simon Bening, the leading master of illumination in the 16C. Bening had a workshop in Bruges, & it is likely that the Golf Book was produced there in the early 1540s. His daughter Levina was also a miniature painter who went on to work as an artist in England. Netherlandish (Bruges), c. 1540. BL Golf Book1 f22 MS Add 24098, fol. 22v.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Spring by Martin Droeshout 1601-1639

Martin Droeshout (British printmaker, 1601-c 1639) Spring

In Pagan Rome, the celebration of Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime.

Monday, May 6, 2019

1500 Gathering Spring Branches for Fertility

1500 - Book of Hours by Jean Poyer, known as The Hours of Henry VIII - May - Picking Branches

In ancient spring-times, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common in May. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. May celebrates flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.  Some celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

16C Spring - The May King or Jack in The Green

Spring by Jacob Matham (Dutch artist, 1571-1631)

In early cultures, a god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. 

Friday, May 3, 2019

17C Spring Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677)

Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Duchess of Lennox as Spring.Spring refers to the ecological, environmental season, and also to ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection & regrowth.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Spring - Flowers, Fertility, Sensuality, & Delight.

1620 Lady as Spring, by Follower of Abraham Janssens, also called Abraham Janssens Van Nuyssen (Flemish, 1573-1632)

Spring brings flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

May by Joachim von Sandrart (1606-1688) - The Onset of Summer & the Flowering of Life.

Joachim von Sandrart (1606-1688) The Month of May

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, &  The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & the goddess Flora.