April Love

Arthur Hughes

1855-56

Oil on canvas

Arched top, 35 x 19 1/2 inches.

Tate Gallery, London, No 2476 (released under the Creative Commons Licence)

When Hughes exhibited April Love at the 1856 Royal Academy, he included the following quotation from Tennyson's "The Miller's Daughter":

Love is hurt with jar and fret,
Love is made a vague regret,
Eyes with idle tears are set,
Idle habit links us yet;
What is Love? For we forget.
Ah no, no.

This study in blue, with only a little dappled sunlight on the clinging ivy, and the woman's eyes cast downwards on a scattering of fallen petals, poignantly suggests the heartbreak that can accompany young love. Christopher Wood writes, "the mood of Hughes's ictures is aways sad, wistful and tender" (53).— Jacqueline Banerjee