MFA208821 Monkeys in the Jungle, 1910 (oil on canvas) by Rousseau, Henri J.F. (Le Douanier) (1844-1910); 114x162 cm; Private Collection; (add.info.: aka. The Tropics); French,  out of copyright

Here comes the sun: famous paintings of summer

“Summertime is always the best of what might be” – Charles Bowden

You’ve shed a few layers of clothing, rolled up your trouser legs and your skin is turning redder by the minute. Summer has arrived, and it’s glorious. As warm sunlight gives the world a beautiful glow and crowds flock to the beach, we bring you a curated selection of famous paintings that capture the essence of the season.

Beaches

Nothing sums up summer like sand between your toes. Many famous artists have captured the sunny theme of a trip to the beach.

 

 Strolling along the Seashore, 1909 (oil on canvas), Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923) / Museo Sorolla, Madrid, Spain
Strolling along the Seashore, 1909 (oil on canvas), Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923) / Museo Sorolla, Madrid, Spain
Beach scene: little girl having her hair combed by her nanny, c.1876-77 (oil on paper), Edgar Degas (1834-1917) / National Gallery, London, UK
Beach scene: little girl having her hair combed by her nanny, c.1876-77 (oil on paper), Edgar Degas (1834-1917) / National Gallery, London, UK
Boats in the Harbour at Collioure, 1905 (oil on canvas), Andre Derain (1880-1954) / Private Collection
Boats in the Harbour at Collioure, 1905 (oil on canvas), Andre Derain (1880-1954) / Private Collection

Gardens in bloom

Paintings showing gardens in full bloom and fields under bright blue skies perfectly reflect the summer landscape. Looking at these colourful pictures you can nearly smell the thick, sweet scent of summer flowers and grass.

 

The Artist's Garden at Vetheuil, 1880 (oil on canvas), Claude Monet (1840-1926) / National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA
The Artist’s Garden at Vetheuil, 1880 (oil on canvas), Claude Monet (1840-1926) / National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA
 The Swing (Les Hasards heureux de L'Escarpolette), 1767 (oil on canvas), Jean-Honore Fragonard (1732-1806) / Wallace Collection, London, UK
The Swing (Les Hasards heureux de L’Escarpolette), 1767 (oil on canvas), Jean-Honore Fragonard (1732-1806) / Wallace Collection, London, UK
Apple Tree I, 1912 (oil on canvas), Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) / Private Collection / Photo © Christie's Images
Apple Tree I, 1912 (oil on canvas), Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) / Private Collection / Photo © Christie’s Images

 

Picnics and Parks

“Picnic” basically means “summer afternoon”.

 Dejeuner sur l'Herbe, 1863 (oil on canvas) (see also 65761), Edouard Manet (1832-83) / Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France
Dejeuner sur l’Herbe, 1863 (oil on canvas) (see also 65761), Edouard Manet (1832-83) / Musee d’Orsay, Paris, France
A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, 1884-86 (oil on canvas) , Georges Pierre Seurat (1859-91) / The Art Institute of Chicago, IL, USA / Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection
A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, 1884-86 (oil on canvas) , Georges Pierre Seurat (1859-91) / The Art Institute of Chicago, IL, USA / Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection
 Florence from near San Miniato, 1828, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) / British Museum, London, UK
Florence from near San Miniato, 1828, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) / British Museum, London, UK

Harvest

Taking place at the very end of the summer, the harvest has inspired many artists throughout the ages to create idyllic country scenes.

Haymaking, possibly the months of June and July, 1565 (oil on panel), Pieter Brueghel the Elder (c.1525-69) / Lobkowicz Palace, Prague Castle, Czech Republic
Haymaking, possibly the months of June and July, 1565 (oil on panel), Pieter Brueghel the Elder (c.1525-69) / Lobkowicz Palace, Prague Castle, Czech Republic
 Grainstacks at the end of the Summer, Morning effect, 1891 (oil on canvas), Claude Monet (1840-1926) / Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France
Grainstacks at the end of the Summer, Morning effect, 1891 (oil on canvas), Claude Monet (1840-1926) / Musee d’Orsay, Paris, France
 Summer, 1573 (oil on canvas), Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-93) / Louvre, Paris, Franc
Summer, 1573 (oil on canvas), Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-93) / Louvre, Paris, Franc

Demeter/Ceres

The Ancient Greek goddess of agriculture, harvest and fertility, Demeter (Roman name Ceres), often makes an appearance in summer scenes and allegories. In many paintings the goddess embodies the season, or the fruitful “abundance” associated with summer.

Triumph of Ceres and Sign of Virgin with three deans, scene from Month of August, attributed to Cosimo Tura (circa 1430-1495) and Master of Ercole, fresco, north wall, Hall of Months, Palazzo Schifanoia (Palace of Joy), Ferrara, Italy, circa 1470 / De Agostini Picture Library / A. De Gregorio
Triumph of Ceres and Sign of Virgin with three deans, scene from Month of August, attributed to Cosimo Tura (circa 1430-1495) and Master of Ercole, fresco, north wall, Hall of Months, Palazzo Schifanoia (Palace of Joy), Ferrara, Italy, circa 1470 / De Agostini Picture Library / A. De Gregorio
Allegory of Abundance (oil on panel), Jan Brueghel the Younger (1601-78) & Ambrosius II Francken (c.1590-1632) / Private Collection / © Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts, New York
Allegory of Abundance (oil on panel), Jan Brueghel the Younger (1601-78) & Ambrosius II Francken (c.1590-1632) / Private Collection / © Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts, New York
Allegory of Summer, c.1792 (oil on canvas), Mariano Salvador de Maella (1739-1819) / Prado, Madrid, Spain / Photo © AISA
Allegory of Summer, c.1792 (oil on canvas), Mariano Salvador de Maella (1739-1819) / Prado, Madrid, Spain / Photo © AISA

Sunflowers

The summer months are peak time for sunflowers, and our selection of summer images wouldn’t be complete without these big, bright blooms.

Sunflowers, 1888 (oil on canvas), Vincent van Gogh (1853-90) / Neue Pinakothek, Munich, Germany
Sunflowers, 1888 (oil on canvas), Vincent van Gogh (1853-90) / Neue Pinakothek, Munich, Germany
Girl with Sunflowers, 1941 (oil on masonite), Diego Rivera (1886-1957) / Private Collection / Photo © Christie's Images
Girl with Sunflowers, 1941 (oil on masonite), Diego Rivera (1886-1957) / Private Collection / Photo © Christie’s Images

Far, far away

Finally, when we think of summer our mind also turns to the tropics… the bright colours of tropical destinations have long served as an inspiration for many renowned artists.

Women of Tahiti, On the Beach, 1891 (oil on canvas), Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) / Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France
Women of Tahiti, On the Beach, 1891 (oil on canvas), Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) / Musee d’Orsay, Paris, France
Monkeys in the Jungle, 1910 (oil on canvas), Henri J.F. Rousseau (Le Douanier) (1844-1910) / Private Collection
Monkeys in the Jungle, 1910 (oil on canvas), Henri J.F. Rousseau (Le Douanier) (1844-1910) / Private Collection
Sunset over the Atlas Mountains, c. 1935 (oil on canvas), Winston Churchill (1874-1965) / Private Collection / Photo © Christie's Images
Sunset over the Atlas Mountains, c. 1935 (oil on canvas), Winston Churchill (1874-1965) / Private Collection / Photo © Christie’s Images

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