allegorical painting

Large (Clark Art Museum)

This, the second of Alfred Stevens’ allegorical seasons, is Summer, also from 1877.

As the Clark points out, this figure “has loosened her hair, shades her eyes flirtatiously with a fan, and holds a bundle of roses in full bloom.”

She is bolder than Spring—and her placement in a domestic interior (and direct eye contact) make her seem more immediate, more approachable.

Large (Clark Art Museum)

Alfred Stevens painted the four seasons as young women three times in his career—the first for a royal commission, and this, the second set, for merely a wealthy one.

This is Spring, painted in 1877.

Its subject seems oddly calm given that a live dove perches precariously on her shoulder, but the delicate flowers of the scene and the fine ribbons of her dress reinforce her role as allegorical spring.

Large (Clark Art Museum)

If the final installment of Alfred Stevens’ allegorical series seems out of place, dear reader, that’s because it is.

Winter, painted in 1877, was probably meant to be an old woman, to fit with the progressing ages of the other three. But, the Clark quotes a contemporary critic as writing, “Leopold II wanted to have on the walls of his palace only young, fresh grace.”

Copies of the series, such as this one, followed suit.