Spring into our collections
For centuries, artists and designers have been inspired by the natural world, from wildlife and plants to the changing seasons. Spring's promise of new beginnings, from the delicate beauty of its blossom to the bold colours of its fresh blooms, is the most captivating of all. Its influence can be seen across the arts, from Renaissance craftsmen to botanical artists and designers of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Celebrate spring through some of its most evocative depictions in our collections.
Depicting 'hanami', Japan's cherry blossom celebration
This woodblock print, from the collection at Cragside in Northumberland, celebrates the appearance in Japan of 'sakura', or cherry blossom, and the custom of gathering with friends and family under flowering trees to celebrate spring’s fleeting spectacle.
This custom, known as 'hanami', or flower viewing, dates back over a thousand years. Originating in the imperial court, it later becoming a cultural celebration enjoyed by everyone in Japan. During 'hanami', it’s typical to share a drink or picnic with friends under the blossoming trees and take time to relax and enjoy the ephemeral beauty of the flowers.
This print shows the flowering cherry trees along Shinobazu pond in Edo (present-day Tokyo). It is from the series 'Thirty-Six Views of the Eastern Capital' ('Tōto Sanjūrokkei'), by Hiroshige II, and was produced in about 1861–2.
" Samazama no
How many, many things
They call to mind,
These cherry-blossoms! "
The 'real' Peter Rabbit
Beatrix Potter made this pencil drawing of her pet rabbit, Peter Piper, in January 1898. He inspired her most famous illustrated work, 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit' (1902).
St Agnes and the lamb
St Agnes is traditionally depicted in art with a lamb, a symbol of her chastity. Here, she figures in an 1887 tapestry by Edward Burne-Jones at Standen in West Sussex.
The Four Seasons - Spring
Rosalba Carriera’s depiction of Spring, from the collection at Polesden Lacey, Surrey, portrays a young maiden cradling a rabbit or hare, symbols of rebirth and fertility.
A mother hen
This charming painted paper frieze of a hen and her chicks by Cecil Aldin appears on the wall of the nursery at Wightwick Manor, West Midlands.