The season of summer is celebrated in some splendid paintings both literal and abstract, ancient and new, and in locations spanning the globe, from cityscapes to countryside, from seas to woodlands, from daytime through to the long nights.

Victoria Avenue, Summer

Victoria Avenue, Summer

Lincoln Pugh Jenkins (1901–1988)

The Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate

I have recently returned from a long summer's walk through the landscape of the South Downs where I walked the border of land and sea for 110 kilometres with The Refugee Tales project. The project both publishes a series of books and organises walks throughout the landscape of the UK in solidarity with those held in indefinite detention, along the way reclaiming the land as a place of belonging.

Summer Landscape, Sussex

Summer Landscape, Sussex 1970

David W. P. Humphreys (1937–2022)

Worthing Museum and Art Gallery

Longing for the landscape on my return from the walk, I was delighted to discover a painting entitled Summer Landscape, Sussex by David W. P. Humphreys in the archive to transport me back to that terrain. One of the most striking elements of my walk was the chalk – part of my walk took me across the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs all the way to Eastbourne. While the specific location in Sussex is unnamed in this painting, what appears to be chalk is captured in a terrifically textured way with a dark cliff rising into a red sky.

'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?', asked Shakespeare in Sonnet 18.

'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?'

'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?' 1988

Philip Sutton (b.1928)

The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

It is the inspiration for the title of a painting by Philip Sutton held in The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery which is alive with the bright colours and shapes of summer.

A Summer’s Day

A Summer’s Day

Diana M. Armfield (b.1920)


The idyll of that summer's day is shown in many a painting such as Diana M. Armfield's picture-perfect A Summer's Day, depicting a peaceful scene of people in a park. Other scenes I enjoyed include Summer: Miles and His Kite by Henry Kondracki, showing the tiny speck of a person dwarfed by sea, sky and sand.

Summer: Miles and His Kite

Summer: Miles and His Kite

Henry Kondracki (b.1953)

Art in Healthcare

There are many paintings titled simply Summer Landscape which show how artists have admired the natural world in this season.

Summer Storm

Summer Storm

unknown artist

North Ayrshire Council

Even bad weather in summer seems serene in the paintings I've seen – Summer Storm by an unknown artist shows rain failing in what looks like a wave of blue hair.

Midsummer Night, Lofoten, Norway

Midsummer Night, Lofoten, Norway

Adelsteen Normann (1848–1918)

Towneley Hall Art Gallery & Museum

It is not only a summer's day that is celebrated in paintings but also the long nights, and nature at nighttime in this season, as in Midsummer Night, Lofoten, Norway by Adelsteen Normann which shows atmospheric red clouds of sunset over the archipelago.

Summer Evening, Achill

Summer Evening, Achill

Michael J. Bourke (1913–1985)

Armagh County Museum

Summer Evening, Achill shows two people admiring the clarity of evening light on water, while summer evenings are shown in an adventurously abstract way in paintings such as Abstract – Summer Sunset by Georgia Melhuish, which makes the most of strokes of orange, yellow and white.

Abstract – Summer Sunset

Abstract – Summer Sunset

George Melhuish (1916–1985)

Art in Healthcare

Summer Night on the River

Summer Night on the River

Barbara Beck (b.c.1927)

Monmouthshire Museums Service

There is also Summer Night on the River by Barbara Beck, showing five people on a boat-trip in such resplendent colour and texture that it made me want to slip out and enjoy nature at night.

The Summer Moon – Bait Gatherers

The Summer Moon – Bait Gatherers 1858

Charles Lees (1800–1880)

Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture

The Summer Moon – Bait Gatherers, showing moonlight on water and people gathered at the shore, and Summer Moonlight, Firth of Clyde, make me want to stroll through the evenings and admire the magnificence of the moon in this anniversary year of the first person to land on the moon.

Summer Moonlight, Firth of Clyde

Summer Moonlight, Firth of Clyde 1928

Patrick Downie (1854–1945)

Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives

Artwork subjects range all over the world, and from cityscapes to the countryside.

Summer in the City

Summer in the City

Gillian McCormick

University of Strathclyde

There is, for example, Summer in the City by Gillian McCormick, showing an abstract cityscape and blue skies.

Summer Meadow

Summer Meadow

Tony Turpin (b.1933)

Princess of Wales Community Hospital

In contrast to urban scenes, I love Summer Meadow by Tony Turpin showing a glory of red flowers stretching all the way off the edge.

Cornfield Summer

Cornfield Summer 1997

Lindsay Anne Rutherford

University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

Cornfield Summer by Lindsay Anne Rutherford is an enchantment of deep yellow and amber.

Sunlit Cornfield Sketch for 'Summer'

Sunlit Cornfield Sketch for 'Summer'

Alan Reynolds (1926–2014)

Merton College, University of Oxford

I also love the cornfield in Sunlit Cornfield (Sketch for 'Summer') by Alan Reynolds (the finished painting is in the Tate).


Summer c.1945–1955

Ivan Grigorievich Savenko (1924–1987)

Paintings Collection

Summer by Ivan Grigorievich Savenko shows the lush green of full-leaved trees and tall grass.

Early Summer

Early Summer 1898

Daniel Alexander Williamson (1822–1903)

Walker Art Gallery

Paintings show the season in all of its stages – from Early Summer by Daniel Alexander Williamson to Late Summer in the Severn Valley by Alastair Frederick Flatteley.

Late Summer in the Severn Valley

Late Summer in the Severn Valley

Alastair Frederick Flattely (1922–2009)

RWA (Royal West of England Academy)

Thankfully (or at least hopefully!) there are still many weeks of the season still to enjoy.

Many abstract artworks show how the season of summer has set the imagination of artists alight and brilliantly distil the spirit of the season, such as Summer Lightning by George MacPherson held in the Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture.

Summer Lightning

Summer Lightning 2005

George Alexander MacPherson (1935–2018)

Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture

One of the most powerful of abstracts, Summer's Promise by Carolyne Kardia, uses bright yellow, red, green and blue in shapes which look like the inside of a flower, capturing all the potential the season seems to hold.

Summer's Promise

Summer's Promise 2002

Carolyne Kardia (b.1951)

Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust (Art at the Heart of the RUH)

Inspired by these paintings, I'm now going to stroll outside into the summer evening as the sun sets and admire every moment of the season while it lasts.

Anita Sethi, journalist, writer and critic