Alhough artist Arthur Hughes was not a full-fledged member of the PRB, he converted to Pre-Raphaelitism after reading an issue of The Germ in 1850, and critics generally consider his work Pre-Raphaelite. His well-known painting April Love conforms to this style in a number of ways, depicting a graceful young woman in a garden in springtime. The colors are vivid, yet simultaneously confer an air of delicacy to the picture. The artist pays great attention to detail, especially to that of vegetation, especially in the foreground. The garden recedes into darkness as the eye moves back in the picture, but bursts into light again at an open arch saturated with bright foliage. The gentle and innocent expression and pose of the woman herself meshes perfectly with the background and evinces more than anything the romantic nature of the painting.

Questions

1. How does the garden setting help to give the painting meaning? Why might Hughes have chosen to paint climbing ivy as opposed to another kind of plant? What reasons might he have had for painting fallen flower petals in the foreground?

2. Are there elements in this painting that are not Pre-Raphaelite? What about the lighting? What about the mood of the painting and its subject?

3. The shadowy figure in back of the woman could very well be the lover. Why did the artist paint him in such dark tones and why in a way that makes him almost unrecognizable?

4. Why was the excerpt from Tennyson's poem "The Miller's Daughter" appropriate to display alongside the painting at its exhibition at the Royal Academy?
Victorian Web Homepage Visual Arts Hughes Paintings by Hughes

Last modified 14 September 2004