Happy New Year to all! As the earth completes another orbit around the sun, I've been looking at artworks exploring new beginnings – one of the most potent symbols of which is the sunrise. These paintings depict the hope and possibility of a new day as it rises all over the world, dawning over deserts, mountains, cities, and the sea.
Sunrises are captured in many corners of the globe on Art UK. There is the striking Sunrise over Spitzbergen and Sunrise over Naples...
There is the Acropolis at Sunrise and Atlantic Dawn...
Moving to the Australian outback, Dawn Arrival, Purnululu shows giant bell-shaped rock mounds which are 350 million years old, at dawn.
As for UK locations, these range from the north of England, in Sunrise near Scarborough and the stunning Sunrise over Wigan, to the south in Sunrise over West Sussex.
The natural world at sunrise has proven a treasure trove for artists, many of whom have caught the first rays of light as they fall upon the sea, as in the majestic Sunrise at Sea by Henry Dawson, Boat at Sunrise by J. A. Stewart, the boldly coloured A Clipper at Dawn, and the sepia tones of Winter Sunrise over Sea by an unknown artist.
Sunrise as it is reflected in water from inlets to lochs, from rivers to harbours, has long fascinating painters. A selection includes A Mediterranean Inlet at Sunrise and Sunrise on Loch Tay. I also admire the artwork of Sunrise in Cowie Harbour, Aberdeenshire, which captures the busyness of dawn, showing fishermen already at work, by an artist who specialised in seascapes, as well as landscapes and animals.
One of the most powerful portrayals of the natural world at dawn is Pintail Pursuit at Sunrise by the wildlife artist Peter Markham Scott, who was a pioneering conservationist and ornithologist. He was the first president of Nature in Art, the world's first museum dedicated to fine, decorative and applied art inspired by nature.
Birds flutter through other sunrise paintings, including Dawn Sentry, which shows a large hornbill in flight in Malaya, watched over by a sentry, and the beautiful Dawn by Anne Toms, perhaps one of the most peaceful of all the paintings I have seen.
Other striking depictions of landscapes at dawn include the stunning Sunrise Over the Mountains of Moab and the daringly bold abstract Desert Sunrise.
There are also artists who have experimented with juxtaposing the beauty of the natural world at dawn and the chaos of a human being awaking, as in the interesting work Dawn by Robert Callender, in which we see an unmade bed in what appears to be a caravan in the midst of nature.
As well as realist images, there are some compelling abstracts including Dragon Sunrise by Maggi Hambling, showing bright arms of sunlight, almost octopus-like, reaching out. First Light is by Tricia Gillman, whose work concentrates on colour and shows the influence of French artists, including Matisse.
Abstracts also well emphasise the wide-ranging palette of the dawn, in paintings showing off its reds and golds, while Winter Sunrise makes the most of the colour blue. The abstract painting Sunrise makes the most of the colour scarlet in all its splendour, as does Quiet Dawn by Diana Constance. Then there is Ochre Sunrise, which captures the calming dawn colour of yellow.
Sunrise mixes yellow, blue and green in curious ways, and meanwhile, there is a pastiche of cheerful images in Sunrise by Eleanor Glover.
Since the dawn of time have humans been awed by the splendour of a sunrise. From ancient artworks to the most modern, from
Two paintings which most made me catch my breath are Dawn by Niels H. Christiansen for its gorgeous capturing of colour in the landscape of mountain and sea. Also Dawn by Joseph Farquharson, with its very different colour palette of sheer white light, green and gold, and a bird in flight, head tilted towards the rising sun, its outstretched wings reflected in the sea.
All in all, these depictions of dawn in all its multifaceted glory send a shiver down the
Anita Sethi, journalist, writer and critic