It is the 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness', as the poet John Keats famously called it.
Autumn is one of my all-time favourite seasons, for its astonishment of colours, setting the world ablaze with bronze and burgundy and gold. Since childhood, I've loved looking out for the first conker of the season, and remember the delightful crackling of chestnuts roasting, along with the crackling of leaves. All in all, I love the sight, smell and sounds of the season.
I'm not alone in my ardour for autumn – delving through Art UK shows a treasure trove of autumnal art. Autumn is brought to life brilliantly in many artworks and all stages of the season are captured, from early autumn to late autumn, from the break of an autumn day to autumn nights.
Let's look first at the abstract artworks of autumn which powerfully draw out the colours of the season.
Autumn by Colin Saxton, for example, shows a glory of red and blue.
Autumn by Eileen Tait shows a swirl of deep bronze and red, and brilliantly captures the movement of an autumnal breeze, the like of which we are experiencing this month.
Autumn Landscape by Michael Ayrton also well captures the colours and shapes of the season, as does Dark Autumn by David Burton-Richardson, which is anything but dark, with its foregrounding of the colour red.
There are some artworks that make me want to step inside of them and go for an autumnal stroll – such as Autumn Landscape by Albert Gabriel Rigolot.
While this particular painting is of an unnamed landscape, there are landscapes the world over in autumn that have fired the imagination.
Having spent summer and into the autumn walking through the Pennines, I was struck by Autumn in the Pennines by John Charles Moody – a painting in which bright light turns leaves to gold, with what looks like limestone visible in the foreground (indeed the area is renowned for its limestone, immortalised in W. H. Auden's poem 'In Praise of Limestone'). Peeking through the trees are the fells for which the area is also famed.
There are some wonderful autumnal cityscapes, including one of my hometown of Manchester, Late Autumn: Irlam Hall, near Manchester, which is almost sepia in tone.
Autumn is a season of departures, and I glance at the sky and see a flock of birds swooping in perfect symmetry into the setting sun getting ready to migrate to warmer climes. Nature is alive in haunting ways in the best of artworks, both the elements of nature that are departing, and those that are staying for the season. Included in this category is one of my absolute favourite autumnal artworks, Gulls in an Autumn Landscape, by Raymond C. Booth.
In the painting, the bright whiteness of the gulls contrasts compellingly with the deep browns of the landscape. Birds are also powerfully captured in Mallards in Sere Wood.
Leaves, of course, fall in abundance throughout many of the artworks with autumn woodlands. They make for some of the finest paintings, such as the nineteenth-century Autumn Leaves by John Milne Donald and Woodland Scene by Ivor B. Coburn.
I will leave you with two autumn sunset paintings – Autumn Sunset, Arran, with its gorgeous amber light reflecting on the sea and dark mountains rising in the distance...
...and Autumn Glow by William MacTaggart.
Looking at these wonders of autumnal art has inspired me to go for a walk through the season itself, crunching over leaves and making the most of feasting my eyes on the glorious colours before the winter descends – though when it does, we have these paintings to turn to and relish, whatever season it may be.
Anita Sethi, journalist, writer and critic