Valckenborch’s Spring, aka Frühlingslandschaft (Mai), depicts the new season arousing a desire for revelry after winter’s confinement. It’s part of a series of calendar paintings celebrating the months of the year and appropriate seasonal activities. Though, in this instance, Valckenborch has no word for it, a picnic, at least that I know of.
Leaving confines of the walled city, they climb a hill [of which there are none in Antwerp] overlooking the town and picnic on the grass. The picnickers are aristocratic, undoubtedly well-to-do. They show off their clothing which seems symbolic: the man in green escorting the woman in red suggests prosperity, well-being, and love. The couple walks towards a group of young women playing on the grass. Behind them, in the shade of a group of trees, a brilliant white cloth set on the grass filled with cakes and confections. In the grove, a couple embraces. There is a band of wind instruments and strings and dancing; lovemaking or flirting as in the quartet of men and women in the lower right foreground.
Featured Image: Lucas van. Spring or The Month of May, Frühlingslandschaft (Mai) (1587), oil on canvas. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna