It is the 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness', as the poet John Keats famously called it.

An English Autumn Afternoon

An English Autumn Afternoon 1854

Ford Madox Brown (1821–1893)

Birmingham Museums Trust

Autumn is one of my all-time favourite seasons, for its astonishment of colours, setting the world ablaze with bronze and burgundy and gold. Since childhood, I've loved looking out for the first conker of the season, and remember the delightful crackling of chestnuts roasting, along with the crackling of leaves. All in all, I love the sight, smell and sounds of the season.

Autumn Effect at Argenteuil

Autumn Effect at Argenteuil 1873

Claude Monet (1840–1926)

The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust)

I'm not alone in my ardour for autumn – delving through Art UK shows a treasure trove of autumnal art. Autumn is brought to life brilliantly in many artworks and all stages of the season are captured, from early autumn to late autumn, from the break of an autumn day to autumn nights.

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves 1856

John Everett Millais (1829–1896)

Manchester Art Gallery

Let's look first at the abstract artworks of autumn which powerfully draw out the colours of the season.


Autumn 1959

Colin Saxton (1927–2013)

The Hepworth Wakefield

Autumn by Colin Saxton, for example, shows a glory of red and blue.



Eileen Tait

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

Autumn by Eileen Tait shows a swirl of deep bronze and red, and brilliantly captures the movement of an autumnal breeze, the like of which we are experiencing this month.

Autumn Landscape

Autumn Landscape 1962

Michael Ayrton (1921–1975)

Government Art Collection

Autumn Landscape by Michael Ayrton also well captures the colours and shapes of the season, as does Dark Autumn by David Burton-Richardson, which is anything but dark, with its foregrounding of the colour red.

Dark Autumn

Dark Autumn 2000

David Burton-Richardson (b.1961)

Pembrokeshire County Council's Museums Service

There are some artworks that make me want to step inside of them and go for an autumnal stroll – such as Autumn Landscape by Albert Gabriel Rigolot.

Autumn Landscape

Autumn Landscape 1880–1890

Albert Gabriel Rigolot (1862–1932)

Hartlepool Museums and Heritage Service

While this particular painting is of an unnamed landscape, there are landscapes the world over in autumn that have fired the imagination.

Autumn in the Pennines

Autumn in the Pennines

John Charles Moody (1884–1962)

Worthing Museum and Art Gallery

Having spent summer and into the autumn walking through the Pennines, I was struck by Autumn in the Pennines by John Charles Moody – a painting in which bright light turns leaves to gold, with what looks like limestone visible in the foreground (indeed the area is renowned for its limestone, immortalised in W. H. Auden's poem 'In Praise of Limestone'). Peeking through the trees are the fells for which the area is also famed.

There are some wonderful autumnal cityscapes, including one of my hometown of Manchester, Late Autumn: Irlam Hall, near Manchester, which is almost sepia in tone.

Late Autumn: Irlam Hall, near Manchester

Late Autumn: Irlam Hall, near Manchester 1909

James Hey Davies (1844–1930)

Manchester Art Gallery

Autumn is a season of departures, and I glance at the sky and see a flock of birds swooping in perfect symmetry into the setting sun getting ready to migrate to warmer climes. Nature is alive in haunting ways in the best of artworks, both the elements of nature that are departing, and those that are staying for the season. Included in this category is one of my absolute favourite autumnal artworks, Gulls in an Autumn Landscape, by Raymond C. Booth.

Gulls in an Autumn Landscape

Gulls in an Autumn Landscape

Raymond C. Booth (1929–2015)

Kirklees Museums and Galleries

In the painting, the bright whiteness of the gulls contrasts compellingly with the deep browns of the landscape. Birds are also powerfully captured in Mallards in Sere Wood.

Mallards in Sere Wood

Mallards in Sere Wood 2003

Arthur Gee (1934–2011)

Nature in Art

Leaves, of course, fall in abundance throughout many of the artworks with autumn woodlands. They make for some of the finest paintings, such as the nineteenth-century Autumn Leaves by John Milne Donald and Woodland Scene by Ivor B. Coburn.

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves 1864

John Milne Donald (1819–1866)

Glasgow Life Museums

Woodland Scene*

Woodland Scene* 1981

Ivor B. Coburn (b.1934)

Northern Ireland Civil Service

I will leave you with two autumn sunset paintings – Autumn Sunset, Arran, with its gorgeous amber light reflecting on the sea and dark mountains rising in the distance...

Autumn Sunset,  Arran

Autumn Sunset, Arran

James Harrigan (b.1937)

Parliamentary Art Collection

...and Autumn Glow by William MacTaggart.

Autumn Glow

Autumn Glow

William MacTaggart (1903–1981)

University of Strathclyde

Looking at these wonders of autumnal art has inspired me to go for a walk through the season itself, crunching over leaves and making the most of feasting my eyes on the glorious colours before the winter descends – though when it does, we have these paintings to turn to and relish, whatever season it may be.

Anita Sethi, journalist, writer and critic