Around June 21, the sun passes the Tropic of Cancer and summer starts here. There is then a period of heat, lots of sunlight and long days. Nature is in full bloom in the first summer months, people go to the beach or take to the water.
There is sailing, swimming, fishing, strolling on terraces or lounging in the garden. And no vacation is as long as the summer vacation. Summer therefore seems to be the perfect time for blissful idleness, or dolce far niente. For many painters, summer is the ideal time to work outside. They are less affected by a rain shower. And they can sketch or paint for many hours at a time until they return home hungry, thirsty and satisfied. The Impressionists in particular find the sunlight effects and colors they seek for their landscapes, beach or cityscapes on summer days. Also among their predecessors of the Hague School, who mainly strived to depict a mood in nature, there is now and then already attention for the representation of strong light reflections. Willem Maris, also called the "impressionist of the Hague School", was a master at this. In his watercolor Ducks on the Grass, we see how he lets a tingling sunlight play over the grass and the ducks' backs.
But it is the Impressionists who, as light artists, are able to really make us feel the warmth of summer. Like J.B. Jongkind with his sailing ship with flapping sails on still water. Or Evert Pieters in his summer painting In the garden, with two women in - presumably - his own garden in Blaricum. Jan Voerman paints in Wadend cattle Ice cows that seek coolness in the river in the hazy light of the early morning. In shades of tar blue, bright green, gray and lots of white, together with the transparency of the watercolor technique, the impression is given of the beginning of a very warm summer day, perhaps during the dog days.
The ultimate representation of summer is the beach scene. Who doesn't enjoy sunbathing or lounging on the sand overlooking the sea? The beach with its bathers is therefore a popular subject for painters. On the beach views of Louis Soonius and Johan Antoni de Jonge, we see children in summer outfits working with shovels, sand and water. The versatile Isaac Israels paints Scheveningen mundane beach life in many guises; from a boy posing in the surf to lively beach entertainment. His A busy day on the beach of Scheveningen is depicted in fast, nervous lines, the figures sometimes no more than a few spots of color.
More and more often than the Dutch painters in summer go to southern France and Italy, where the light is more intense and the colors brighter. Despite their often tight budget, they know where to find the most beautiful places for their landscapes, beaches and secluded bays. Just like their French colleagues, by the way. Israels can often be found in Viareggio, Willem Dooijewaard paints Nice, David Abraham Bueno de Mesquita visits Sestri Levante on the Ligurian coast and will remain in Italy for the rest of his life. The Netherlands is too simple in color, it sounded.
But despite the fact that they gradually detach themselves more and more from detailed representation of reality and work towards converting impressions into color, cheerful, sunny images remain part of the jargon of painters. Because they know, like many artists before and after them: people in the summer, who fish, or lounge, enjoy on the beach or in the garden, on the kayak pier or the terrace, bring a cheerful mood and pleasant paintings.