“There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October.” ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

It is a great autumn season here in Denver. Luckily we haven’t had snow yet, and the leaves are getting brighter by the day. I know that this is a potent time of year for people to be creative and express gratitude for many things, including their surroundings. As often happens, it got me thinking about what autumn was like during the Victorian era and how it showed up in art. Paint as a medium was enjoying a time of particular popularity and I became curious about how changing leaves would have shown up in paintings rather than in today’s social media images. I have to say – the two are perhaps equally stunning! 

I enjoyed sourcing this collection of Victorian-era paintings of autumn leaves, along with some poems by Victorian writers who love this season as much as I do. 

But first, a few photos from Denver.

Victorian paintings of autumn leaves

Gathering Autumn Leaves, John George Brown
A Wooded Path in Autumn, H. A. Brendekilde
In Autumn Woods, Winslow Homer

Autumn Days
Will Carleton

“Yellow, mellow, ripened days,
Sheltered in a golden coating;
O’er the dreamy, listless haze,
White and dainty cloudlets floating;
Winking at the blushing trees,
And the sombre, furrowed fallow;
Smiling at the airy ease,
Of the southward flying swallow.
Sweet and smiling are thy ways,
Beauteous, golden Autumn days.”

Autumn Colouring, Edward Wilkins Waite
Autumn day with mother and daughter, Hans Andersen Brendekilde
Autumn Oaks, George Inness

Fall, Leaves, Fall
Emily Brontë

“Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.”

Autumn, Winslow Homer
Autumn Sunlight, Theodore Robinson

Sarah E. Howard

“A huge bouquet of colors rare,
The maple stands aflame;
Autumnal tints are everywhere, —
What mystic artist came
And wrought this brilliant, gorgeous scene
Upon the forest’s waving green?
The frost bedecks each tiny thing
With jewels sparkling bright,
And bids the bristling chestnuts fling
Their treasures to the light;
And boys and squirrels — glad and free —
The merry harvesters shall be.”

Autumn Leaves, John Everett Millais

More fall fun:

Victorian Greeting Cards for Autumn Holidays

Fun facts about America’s favorite Thanksgiving dishes, part 1

Fun facts about America’s favorite Thanksgiving dishes, part 2

The unexpected romantic history of bobbing for apples

A brief history of trick or treating

Please party guests this season with mulled wine