Nothing brings out the best in artists like the sunny summer months, and this August we've been celebrating Sketch Your Summer, to promote all things drawing over the holiday season.
As the warmer weather draws closer to its end, we think about five paintings that best depict the sunshine season - splashes, strawberries and all.
David Hockney’s A Bigger Splash
Could anyone resist visiting their cooling local swimming baths after viewing this 1967 gem at The Tate? A hot sky, two palm-style trees, a vacated diving board and chair plus an enigmatic, tell-tale splash. Hockney’s seemingly infinite versatility is again portrayed here in this pop art celebration of simplicity which captured the British imagination at the time. It took him a fortnight to capture a high-summer happening that lasted but two seconds. Which unsung jumped into the pool? Alas, that question will forever go unanswered. Hockney told The Tate five years ago that he painted it from a photograph.
Sir Robert Ponsonby Staples and George Hamilton Barables’ An Imaginary Cricket Match: England v Australia at Lord’s
Has there been a more famous painting of our summer game? All the classic ingredients are there: the two oldest foes, England and Australia in the white heat of battle at the most sacred of all grounds, Lord’s. The piece today hangs in the Lord’s Pavilion’s writing room for visitors to enjoy. Painted in 1887, it depicts the Victorian fashions of the time under a benign sky with a boundary fielder bending down to stop the ball. You can almost hear the sizzle of chatter among the crowd as he does so.
Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin’s Basket With Wild Strawberries
Nothing says high summer’s here like strawberries, whether it’s a symbol of Wimbledon or a family picnic. So it is with the French painter’s 1761 masterpiece. He brings the fruit to life exuding latent heat. Chardin also proves instructive to any artists who have deliberated for hours about the best way to tackle painting a glass of water.
Pieter Bruegel’s The Harvesters
The Dutchman’s 1565 classic captures the pleasant tiredness of farm labourers at harvest time. Bruegel skilfully leads the viewer down August’s scythed wheatfield path into the remote distance with one hand. Then he concentrates their focus on the picnicking peasants watching three crop-cutting colleagues with the other. There is so much going on in this painting that it almost defies your eye never to drop out of it.
Claude Monet’s Poppy Field
Perhaps the most iconic summer painting of them all. This red-led riot of colour shows Monet at his most satisfied in a plain in the Parisienne commune of Gennevilliers in 1873. Almost bordering on abstraction, the heat almost drips off the canvas as women with parasols stroll through the waist-high fields. It is the best of a collection of summer meadows immortalised by Monet on canvas.
Image 1 - A Bigger Splash by David Hockney, John Stillwell/PA Wire