Spring (Apple Blossoms)

LL 3624


A group of young women are enjoying an idyllic picnic of milk and cream. They are in the bloom of early youth and the apple blossom behind them represents the fragile beauty of adolescence - the rich ephemeral splendour of spring, the beginning of the new year. However, the idyll cannot last. The beauty of both girls and apple blossom will soon fade; the scythe and cut flowers at the right indicating their fate. This is a mood picture - in this case the 'mood' or underlying theme is the transience of youth and beauty. Contemporary critics complained that Millais's command of ideal form was inadequate for so ambitious a subject, but the picture must have inspired similar works by Whistler and Tissot. Millais often used his friends and family as models. The most significant figures in this painting are his two sisters-in-law, Sophie and Alice Gray. Sophie sat for the girl at the far left and for the one supporting herself on her elbow. Alice is the girl wearing a blue dress and the figure lying on her back looking towards the viewer.