Spring is in the air! I wrote about Winter in Art not so long ago. The pictures in that story were all about keeping ourselves warm in the cold season. It made me so much longing for Spring and Summer, even Autumn would be fine. Can the dark winter days be gone please, and will we soon see some spring flowers and sunshine! To get in the mood for the warmer weather, here are two series of the Four Seasons, both starting with Spring: a cute series of paintings by David Teniers (made around 1644) with seasonal activities, and four prints by Hendrick Goltzius (from 1601) with the seasons represented by children growing up and falling in love. These pictures are all to get you in the mood for the warmer seasons. Stay warm for now and enjoy!
Four Seasons by David Teniers (1610 – 1690)
The series of four small paintings by David Teniers is an allegory of the seasons where Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter have been given human forms that embody the essence of each. Teniers placed his characters, of an appropriate age and dressed accordingly, in the foreground with a symbolic seasonal object. In the background figures doing work associated with each season. The paintings are from c.1644 and pretty small, about 22x16cm.
David Teniers the Younger (Antwerp 1610 – Brussels 1690) is one of the most famous 17th-century Flemish painters and particularly known for developing the peasant genre and tavern scenes. He was working for the King of Spain, as well as for Prince William of Orange and the Governor of the Netherlands, the Archduke Leopold. Teniers moved to Brussels where Archduke Leopold became his main employer. One of Teniers’ key tasks was to look after and enlarge the Archducal collection, which grew to incorporate about 1300 works. The archduke’s collection became the nucleus of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Fours Seasons by Hendrick Goltzius (1558 – 1617)
The Four Seasons (1601), designed and drawn by Hendrick Goltzius and engraved by his pupil Jan Saenredam, offer lush depictions of flora and fauna through changing times of the year. The prints simultaneously follow a young girl and boy’s journey into adulthood. The discovery of the bird’s nest of Spring passes seamlessly into the harvesting of Summer’s ripe crops. Autumn’s root vegetables and fruits attract the interest of a full-grown goat and a pig, while the adults and their loyal hound skate the Winter away on a frozen river. On Spring and Summer an Amor figure is shooting his arrows of love towards the boy and girl, and in all four prints the warm or cold wind is blowing from the mouth of a child’s head high in the sky. This is a series about the four seasons, about falling in love, and about growing up.
Hendrick Goltzius (Dutch, 1558–1617), draftsman, engraver, print publisher, and painter, was one of the most important engravers and print publishers of his time. He lived and worked in Haarlem, close to Amsterdam, and established his own print publishing business. He trained a number of engravers to work in his distinctive style. Goltzius and his workshop were internationally acclaimed; his patrons included sovereigns from all parts of Europe, most notably the art-loving Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II who also granted Goltzius copyright protection, which can be seen on the Spring engraving. It mentions “Cum Privil Sa Cae M” which means Cum Privilegio Sacrae Caesarea Majestatis or With Privilege of his Holy Imperial Majesty, and with the date Anno – in the year – 1601. This should prevent other engravers from copying Goltzius’ design and prints. Once such privilege was granted, artists indeed went to court and took action against illegal copying of their works of art.
Jan Pieterszoon Saenredam (Dutch, 1565 – 1607) was a printmaker in engraving, born in Zaandam (hence his name). He showed great artistic talent and the young Saenredam was sent to learn drawing and engraving from Hendrick Goltzius in Haarlem, where he became a master at the age of 24. After working for some time with Goltzius, he encountered the almost inevitable professional rivalry and jealousy, prompting his departure and set up his own workshop in Assendelft (just north of Amsterdam and Zaandam). He died of typhus at the age of 41, and was buried in the Saint Adolphus church at Assendelft. Jan left his wife a sizeable estate as a result of lucrative investments in the Dutch East India Company.
David Teniers the Younger (Flemish, 1610 – 1690), Spring, The Four Seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, c.1644, Oil on Copper, 22x16cm, National Gallery, London.
Jan Saenredam, printmaker (Dutch, 1565 – 1607) after design by Hendrick Goltzius (Dutch, 1558 – 1617), The Four Seasons represented by four pairs of children: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, 1601, with Latin text by C. Schonaeus (Dutch, 1540 – 1611), Engraving on cream laid paper, 22×16 cm, The Art Institute of Chicago.
About the annotations on the prints:
- H. Goltzius Invent. or HG Inve. This means that Hendrick Goltzius is the “inventor” or “drawer” of the design of the print.
- I. Sanredam Sculpt or I.S Sculp. This means that Jan Saenredam is the “sculptor” or the “engraver” of the print.
- Cum Privil Sa Cae M,. This means that the print was protected “Cum privilegio Sacrae Caesarea Majestatis” or “With imperial privilege from the Holy Roman Emperor”, as protection against illegal copies.
- A° 1601 means “Anno 1601” or “in the year 1601”
- C.S. means “Cornelis Schonaeus”, a scholar from Haarlem who wrote many Latin lines and verses that are found on prints of the Haarlem circle of print designers and engravers.