The warmth and sun of the summer months have gone, the nights are drawing in, and there's a cold edge to the wind; but the beauty of autumn is just beginning... One of the most defining characteristics of the season is the new colors that fill the landscape with the falling leaves turning to red, yellow, and orange. These autumnal scenes have been a source of inspiration for artists around the world for centuries, so sit back and take a look at 12 beautiful images of fall that will have you longing for those cooler nights.
Autumn Foliage by Tom ThomsonArt Gallery of Ontario
1. The garden of Saint Paul's Hospital ('Leaf-Fall') by Vincent van Gogh, 1889
Vincent van Gogh often drew upon his surroundings for his work and even in his most turbulent times he saw the beauty in the world. This painting, for instance, was inspired by the large garden of the hospital Vincent van Gogh admitted himself to in 1889. Struck by the beauty of the falling leavings, he originally called this painting a 'leaf-fall'. In the piece, the colors are earthy and cool, and we see a lone figure surrounded by leaves blowing in the wind.
The artist's high viewpoint is interesting here, it enables him to provide a sense of scale with the tall trees in the foreground and the small figure further away. The artist learned of this compositional technique from Japanese prints and the work of his friends and fellow artists, Émile Bernard and Paul Gauguin.
The Garden of Saint Paul's Hospital (`Leaf-Fall') by Vincent van GoghVan Gogh Museum
2. Autumn Leaves by Yokoyama Taikan, 1931
Yokoyama Taikan was responsible for popularizing the technique 'nihonga', a style that emerged around 1900 onward where works were made in accordance with traditional Japanese artistic conventions and materials.
This painting is one of the most impressive examples of his work. In the piece, Taikan has painted most of the space in ultramarine blue and adds patches white-silver that take the form of clouds and rocks. The fresh blues are contrasted by the red autumn leaves which add warmth to the scene. The result is a delicate interpretation of the changing seasons.
Autumn Leaves by Yokoyama TaikanAdachi Museum of Art
3. Autumn on the Seine, Argenteuil (Automne sur la Seine Argenteuil) by Claude Monet, 1873
Claude Monet created this work shortly after he arrived in Argenteuil in 1871. It captures the Petit Bras, a branch of the Seine river. In the background you can see recognizable architectural landmarks such as the Château Michelet.
Light, shadow and reflection are an important feature in Monet’s work, and in this instance his use of muted, autumnal colors is mirrored in the water below, resulting in an interesting symmetry. The reflection makes it difficult to distinguish between the mirrored colors and their sources adding more intrigue to the piece.
Autumn on the Seine, Argenteuil (Automne sur la Seine Argenteuil) by Claude MonetHigh Museum of Art
4. Autumn Colors by Kaii Higashiyama, 1986
Kaii Higashiyama remains one the most highly regarded contemporary Japanese painters. What’s most striking about Higashiyama's work is his use of color and the inspiration he derives from his deep admiration and respect for nature.
In his later years, the scenery the artist painted was no longer from Japan or anywhere else in the world, but a deep expression of his inner world. It’s why we’re treated to such an array of different bold color choices in this particular work and perhaps why there's a focus on plant life and trees as opposed to recognizable buildings or landmarks.
Autumn Colors by Higashiyama KaiiYamatane Museum of Art
5. Near Mstyora, Golden Autumn by Kim N. Britov, 1999
Color, mood and energy are key characteristics of Russian artist Kim N Britov’s work. This particular piece captures the landscape of Mstyora, a small village in the Vladimir region, renowned as a center of folk handicrafts. The traditional style of this land had an impact on Britov himself, and this can be seen in the brightly-colored, graphic style of his work.
In this painting, Britov uses a palette of vivid hues combined with large, deliberately harsh strokes to create a sun-drenched autumn landscape, full of energy. The artist's paintings are primarily characterized by his emotional connection to the subject. This is why the sky in his pictures is so strikingly blue and the foliage is such a bright-orange color. Even the church in the background appears golden at first glance.
Near Mstyora. Golden Autumn by Kim N. Britov (1925–2010)The Institute of Russian Realist Art (IRRA)
6. Autumn by Helmer Osslund, 1907
This large painting was originally part of a series that captured the four seasons. Osslund was commissioned to paint the series for Emil A. Matton (a big shot in the leather industry) for his house in Gävle in 1907. While the building was demolished in 1979, the paintings were rescued and the other three are now privately owned.
Behind the birches in the foreground, you can see the still waters of a mountain lake. The reddish autumn colors are typical of Osslund’s paintings and there’s an eerie darkness to this work unlike the other artworks featured in this list.
Autumn by Helmer OsslundNationalmuseum Sweden
7. Colonnades of Canberra’s Civic Centre by Ethel Carrick Fox, 1944
Ethel Carrick Fox is well known for her brilliantly-colored post-impressionist paintings of crowded streets, markets, cafes, and beach scenes. This work depicts the instantly recognizable buildings in Canberra’s city centre on a bright autumn day.
The yellow poplar trees and bicycles in the foreground further reminds the viewer of where they are, and Fox's dappled brushwork captures a cool breeze and many colors of a sunny autumn day in the nation’s capital.
Colonnades of Canberra’s Civic Centre by Ethel Carrick FoxCanberra Museum and Gallery
8. Inside Akiba Shrine, Ukeji, No. 91 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo by Hiroshige, 1857
Utagawa Hiroshige was a Japanese ukiyo-e artist, and considered the last great master of that tradition. In this view of Akiba Shrine in the village of Ukeji, Hiroshige adopts a Western visual effect – the reflection of trees in water, which was often seen in the works of Impressionist artists. The artist has carefully muted the colors of the trees as they appear in reflection so that the green of the pines is lightened and the red of the maples is softened to a light pink.
The red pigment used for the maples here is different from the red lead or iron oxide in other works in the series, which over time have blackened. As a result, this is the only print where the original glory of the autumn colors can still be fully appreciated.
名所江戸百景 請地秋葉の境内|Inside Akiba Shrine at Ukeji by Utagawa HiroshigeThe Metropolitan Museum of Art
9. Late Autumn Day in the Jægersborg Deer Park, North of Copenhagen by Theodor Philipsen, 1886
Danish artist Theodor Philipsen was known for his landscapes and animal portraits. In this painting the artist captures one the final days of autumn as demonstrated by the his muddy color palette and bare trees.
This work is slightly different in style to Philipsen’s other pieces in that this is the first where he used the brushwork technique adopted by his friend and fellow artist, Paul Gauguin. The pair became close during Gauguin’s visit to Copenhagen in the winter of 1884. In the piece, we see Philipsen use short, saturated brushstrokes in complementary and contrasting colors, giving it an Impressionist aesthetic while maintaining the artist's eye for detail.
Late Autumn Day in the Jægersborg Deer Park, North of Copenhagen by Theodor PhilipsenSMK - Statens Museum for Kunst
10. Autumn landscape by Lin Fengmian, 1977
Lin Fengmian painted this piece the same year he settled in Hong Kong. Living in this new environment had unexpected changes in his art. For instance, it's thought the more liberal social climate gave him courage to reveal stronger emotions in his work, which led to his paintings becoming more expressive. As a result crude, bold brushwork and striking colors became common features in his later paintings.
His landscapes of this period often take a step back from reality, and in Autumn Landscape, for instance, the perspective is slightly skewed and feels almost chaotic. Rather than an accurate interpretation of the scene, Fengmian's focus instead is on expressive brushwork and bright, atmospheric colors to convey this rural landscape.
Autumn landscape by Lin FengmianHong Kong Museum of Art
11. Starrucca Viaduct, Pennsylvania by Jasper Francis Cropsey, 1865
Jasper Francis Cropsey’s view of this fiery autumn scene captures the forests, mountains, and valleys of the northeast of America in a celebration of the country’s uniquely untouched, natural beauty. Images of the railroad in these types of paintings often symbolized the industrial growth of America, and were seen both as a sign of progress and of the destruction of nature.
For Cropsey, he took a more idealistic view of man’s relationship to the land. In this painting, a train and trestle blend easily into the surrounding landscape – the train’s white smoke echoing the clouds above – creating a peaceful scene of man and nature existing in harmony.
Sturrucca Viaduct, Pennsylvania by Jasper Francis CropseyThe Toledo Museum of Art
12. Red over the Mountains as if the Forests are Dyed 萬山紅遍 by Li Keran
Li Keran is one of China’s most important artists from the late 20th century. Although trained in Western oil painting, he was known for his traditional artworks with influences from Qi Baishi and Huang Binhong, two renowned masters.
This particular piece was inspired by “Red over the Mountains as if the Forests are Dyed,” a verse excerpted from the epic poem Qin Yuan Chun Changsha by Mao. The poem was composed when the revolution, led by Mao, entered a period of rapid development. Keran’s composition in this work echoes Northern Song Dynasty landscape painting at the time. Rich, heavy reds and browns have been used by the artist, which has been achieved by adding minerals such as cinnabar into the pigments.
Red over the Mountains as if the Forests are Dyed by Li KeranChina Modern Contemporary Art Document