Artist: De Morgan, Evelyn
Object Number: P_EDM_0019
Date: 1905
Category: Oil on canvas, Paintings, and Wightwick Manor
Material: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: Canvas: H 930 x W 1830 mm Framed: H 1122 x W 1990 x D 80 mm
Inscriptions: Signature, 1905: ‘EDeM 1905’

By 1905 Evelyn De Morgan was 50, she had lived through the Boer War and the outbreak of the First World War. It is therefore, perhaps no surprise that her thoughts become more and more preoccupied with the end of life and death.

The adoption of the four seasons to depict the life cycle is a well-rehearsed trope in philosophy, Christianity and art and Evelyn, in a clearly reflective mood took the opportunity to illustrate her preoccupation with this theme. The left hand side of the picture is bright in colour and thus, the young female in her mauve robes depicts spring. The two central figures in the painting, who harvest an abundance of fruit, symbolise summer. Towards the right of the picture the colours become more muted and sombre and these figures depict the autumn of life.

A cadence is the close of a musical phrase and in painting this work, Evelyn is declaring the Autumn of her life as the end of the season of gaiety and plenty and the start of the grey cold winter and the descent towards old age and eventually death.