The Four Seasons have a history as great series for artwork. Most often seen as sculptures in a garden setting, figurative allegories of the Seasons have been created in a variety of ways; some are all female, some are represented as two male and two female, and various attributes have been used to give the viewer a clue as to the season represented. I enjoy touring historic gardens and viewing the sculptures, deciphering what each figure represents by what they may be holding or wearing.
So, I was delighted with a commission to create a series of the Four Seasons as portrait busts in stoneware clay.
Of the four sculptures, "Spring" was the most personal to my client. Sunflowers were chosen as the flowers that are often used as an attribute of the season of Spring. I researched neoclassical sculptures of Clytie to inspire myself with ideas on creating sunflowers in sculpture. My client also wanted to have her birth month, March, represented by Pisces. I chose to create a stylized Pisces as the decorative part of an ornate headpiece on the sculpture. This allowed the Pisces to be represented naturally as a part of the whole sculpture, and avoided an 'added on' look.
When the Season series were installed, the portrait of Autumn looks towards the portrait of Spring. Autumn and Winter were created as male figures. My favorite part of sculpting "Autumn" was the expression, and the grape vines and grape leaves. I have the vines entwined around an amphora. With grapes harvested in the Autumn, they and 'vino' are often seen as attributes of this season.
The space for the portrait of "Winter" was the shortest of all the spaces allocated to the Seasons at my client's home. So I utilized more horizontal movement to maximize the presence of 'Winter". Depicted as an old man with a long curling beard and windswept hooded cloak - I completed the iconic elements of "Winter" with a flaming brazier that is often historically displayed with this season.
And last is "Summer". With her hair bound up in a classical style, and gazing up towards the sunny sky, "Summer" has her historic attributes of sheaves of wheat and a sickle - as wheat is harvested in the summer months.
When the Season's were installed, I was already dreaming of one day sculpting a series of full-figure Seasons, perhaps for my own garden someday!