Warming paintings for winter

  • 18 November 2014

Monumental works by young artists, sun-drenched French fishing villages, and a British garden in bloom – inject some warmth into the winter months with these stunning summer scenes.

1. Georges Seurat, Bathers at Asniè​res, 1884
​National Gallery, London

Seurat's first monumental-scale painting isn't just one of his most iconic works, but one of the most iconic paintings of summer ever committed to canvas. Created when the artist was only 24 years old, Bathers employs a range of painting techniques – including his trademark pointillism and contemporary colour theory –  to capture the baking heat of a midsummer day. Seurat's application to have the work exhibited at the Salon de Paris was rejected, and the work wouldn't be appreciated until long after the artist's death, aged only 31.

2. Patrick Heron, Azalea Garden: May 1956, 1956
Tate Britain, London

This impressionistic piece, bordering on abstraction, was inspired by Heron's own garden in West Penwith, which erupted into bloom with 'the extraordinary effervescence of flowering azaleas and camellias' in May. The use of colour to define space was a central thread of Heron's work, providing the theme for his 1953 exhibition Space in Colour. For Azalea Garden, Heron uses thick vertical brushstrokes in bold colours beneath a series of dabs and strokes of brilliant white, to create a sense of the vibrancy and the illusion of his garden's space. 

3. André Derain, Collioure, 1905
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh

André Derain was one of the co-founders of Fauvism – the 'wild beasts' of early 20th-century French art – along with his compatriot Henri Matisse. The bold use of blocks of strong colour was one of the defining characteristics of the group's art, and the bright colours of Collioure – applied to the canvas straight from the tube – capture the dazzling, unshadowed light of a fishing village on the south coast of France. Derain spent the summer of 1905 visiting Collioure with Matisse, and the unique light in that area of the country had a profound influence on his developing style.

4. Samuel Palmer, The Magic Apple Tree, 1830
The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Samuel Palmer was born in London in 1805, but ill health forced the artist to move to the countryside. Relocating to Shoreham, a village in the west of Kent, Palmer spent ten years producing landscapes of the surrounding landscape – his 'Valley of Vision'. Today, the works he created during that period are considered to be his greatest, and employ a radical use of colour that was a century ahead of its time. Inspired by the 'primitive' artists of the 15th and 16th centuries, as well as the work of his friend and mentor William Blake, the Magic Apple Tree is a powerful image of the British landscape in summer, as the deep reds of the apples chime with the golden yellow of the fields in the background.

5. Frank Brangwyn, Lyme Regis, date unknown
The McManus, Dundee

An Anglo-Welsh artist who was born in Belgium, Frank Brangwyn moved to Ditchling in 1917 to escape the bombing of London. While he received some artistic training from his father and the William Morris workshop, Brangwyn was mainly self-taught. He developed a unique style that combined the limited palette of the Newlyn school with the bright colours prevalent in Orientalism. In this undated painting of Lyme Regis, Brangwyn paints the Dorset town bathed in the evening light, the blue-green hues of the sky and shadows augmenting the warm tones of the buildings.

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