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Spring
David Teniers the Younger
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This is the first of a series of paintings by David Teniers in which the four seasons are given human form. Here, Spring is personified as a young gardener with a bushy beard, heaving a heavy pot containing a sapling. His step is jaunty and he has a gleam in his eye. His jacket looks new, and his red waistcoat and cap with the feather warm up the otherwise chilly background.

Overhead, wispy grey clouds bear the signs of April showers to come, and the trees in the background are leafless and windblown. A figure in a long gown walks up the hill – perhaps it is Winter making way for Spring.

Other gardeners dig the soil. They appear to have traced a pattern in the earth to follow when planting new trees, making a formal garden in the fashionable style set by French designers and followed with keen interest in Flanders.

Key facts
Artist David Teniers the Younger
Artist dates 1610 - 1690
Full title Spring
Series The Four Seasons
Date made about 1644
Medium and support Oil on copper
Dimensions 22.1 x 16.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG857
Location in Gallery Not on display
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The Four Seasons

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This series of four small paintings is an allegory of the seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter have been given human forms that embody the essence of each. Spring is a gardener carrying a tree to plant in a formal garden; Summer is a peasant tying up a sheaf of corn; Autumn is a drinker who raises a glass of wine; and Winter is an old man wearing a fur cap and mantle, warming himself near a brazier.

Strongly influenced early in his career by the Dutch artist Adriaen Brouwer, Teniers became the most famous painter of peasant life of his day, rivalling Brouwer’s rowdy, raunchy tavern scenes full of larger-than-life characters.

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