There's something defeatist in the prompt drydocking of the speedboats on my mountain lake. Labor Day has passed, but we have one final weekend of summer, and besides, it won't get cold for many more weeks, barring a precipitous snowfall. Can't we pretend it's summer for just a bit longer?
But the fireplaces are already ablaze, and while the mornings may not bite the earlobes just yet, there is a new insistence to the breeze that it be respected with a sweater. For the first time in many months, I am craving a bowl of soup.
Never mind. Everyone says they like autumn best, if for no other reason than because it's the time when they can layer their apparel with soft fabrics and earthy colors.
John Singer Sargent painted his friends Paul and Alice Helleu while visiting an artists' colony in the Cotswolds, a range of hills in England. I like this scene very much, with the top of Paul's straw hat as a surrogate for the sun--see how the light seems to radiate from it in the grass above--even though her straw bonnet is actually a bit brighter. Alice's evident boredom with her husband's absorption in his work, on what surely should have been an afternoon of fishing and recreation, gives a comic cast to a very intricate composition.
I can't help imagining the full scene, with Sargent positioned at our vantage, working on this painting. What must the sounds have been like, the birds, breeze and water mixed with the scrape of the brushes against the two canvases, and perhaps Alice humming softly to herself?
An Out-of-Doors Study by John Singer Sargent, 1889. Click on the picture for a closer look.