Autumn marks the end of glorious and stress-free summer days spent at the beach, tanning outside or relaxing with family and friends. It is a reminder that we need to get back to our routines of work, school, meetings and other work-life activities. However, it also marks a transition period for the upcoming winter months, and the natural world starts its beautiful change from bright, summery tones to shades of ochre, red and orange as the familiar autumn breeze becomes ever more obvious. Nonetheless, autumn has inspired artists with its gorgeous imagery for centuries, and often includes themes of romance, reflection, family and warmth.
The Lake, 2009 (gouache linocut), Private Collection © Liz Somerville / Bridgeman Images
Across much of the world, autumn or fall is to many the most beautiful time of the year, with trees glistening with gold, red, yellow and orange. Artists have been captivated for centuries, with many painters also using it as an opportunity to contemplate the themes of change and decay.
The trees start the process of regeneration by turning their leaves into beautiful shades of red, yellow and orange, which as a whole create the classic autumn landscape. By the end of autumn, all leaves will have fallen and nature will officially start a new cycle of vegetation. Like nature, we too can take autumn as a time for new and fresh beginnings.
Autumn, 1912 (oil on canvas), Franz Dvorak, (1862-1927) Private Collection Photo © Whitford & Hughes, London, UK Bridgeman Images
Maybe you’re starting a new job or perhaps you’re a student facing a new school year. Autumn has many beginnings, and while it may mark the end of the lovable summer period, it shouldn’t be a season that we dread, but one that we look forward to, to set a new tone for the rest of the year.
Autumn is also a great time for outdoor activities. Sun shining through orange leaves while you take a brisk morning walk is one of those unforgettable 'winter is coming' feelings! Like spring, autumn offers the great in-between weather of not too cold but not too hot, which allows us to go outside without melting in the heat or wearing five different layers that make it hard to even move or walk.
The Seasons- Autumn, 1896 (colour litho), Alphonse Marie Mucha (1860-1939) Private Collection / Bridgeman Images
Apple picking is one of the most traditional autumn activities that are great to do with family or friends. It gives you the chance to visit vast apple fields while you get to take home a basket full of apples. Another hobby that has become more popular in recent years is pumpkin picking - now it's not uncommon to see families of all ages heading to their nearest pumpkin field and selecting their own, fresh from the soil.
Hedgehog Wreath, 2015 (cut paper), Isobel Barber / Private Collection © Isobel Barber / Bridgeman Images
Hiking is another great way to enjoy the autumn climate and landscape. Taking a walk through the red, yellow and orange trees is both calming and magical while hiking up to a viewpoint allows you to view the autumn colours in their entirety. However, the most celebrated activities in autumn are the ones surrounding Halloween - which we've already touched upon!
Pumpkins and Squashes, 1996 (acrylic on board), Galley / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images
Halloween is a holiday nearing the end of autumn, but it definitely marks the epitome of autumn holidays. Residential homes are fully decorated with spider webs, skeletons, witches and other scary objects as well as with carved pumpkins. Nearing the evening, kids put on their costumes and head outside to collect more candy than they can possibly eat. Carving the pumpkin with a grotesque or whimsical face or design is another highlight many fondly recall from childhood.
Reveries, 1913 (oil on canvas), Maxfield Frederick Parrish (1870-1966) Private Collection Photo © Christies Images / Bridgeman Images
Autumn has many great and fun activities to offer as well as a unique landscape that not everyone gets to experience every year. Some countries that do not enjoy distinct seasons do not celebrate autumn and its imagery. For those of us who live in seasonal countries, we should appreciate what every season brings and be thankful that we get to experience such special and different landscapes every four months. Because of its individuality, the autumn landscape is loved by visual artists.
Plate 39 from Documents Decoratifs, 1902 (colour litho), Alphonse Marie Mucha (1860-1939) Mucha Trust / Bridgeman Images
There are countless ways in which artists have illustrated autumn, yet they all seem to share a calming essence. It may be the warm tones that spread across the images, or the vast landscapes depicted. However, their calming essence mirrors the feeling of autumn. The feeling you get while walking through the changing trees, while a chilly breeze comes along, or the feeling of finally enjoying sweater weather, after the strong summer heat.
Waiting (oil on canvas), James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902) Private Collection Photo © Christies Images / Bridgeman Images
Read more about our favourite Autumn paintings from the archive