Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Herbert Olivier's Spring Scene

Herbert Arnould Olivier, Summer is Icumen in, 1902, oil on canvas

In 1902, English painter Herbert Arnould Olivier painted a charming image of a young woman beside a flowering tree and exhibited it at the Royal Academy.

Sotheby's says: When the picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1902 it was given the title of "Summer is Icumen In," being the first line of a traditional English song known from a thirteenth century manuscript at Reading Abbey:

Summer is icumen in,
Loudly sing, Cuckoo!
The seed grows and the meadow blooms
And the wood springs anew,
Sing, Cuckoo!

"The song describes the approach of summer and the glories of the reawakening of nature after the somnolence of winter. Olivier therefore used the symbolism to create a painting imbibed with the symbolism of abundance, fertility and rebirth. The subject of Primavera and of Persephone, the Greek Goddess of Spring was popular in the twentieth century as an allegory of rebirth, of the optimism for a new century."

More at Sotheby's. Thanks, James W. 

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