Manchester Art Gallery

Autumn Leaves

Object description

Autumnal garden scene, depicting four melancholy young girls mounding gathered leaves. The two older girls gaze directly at the viewer; they are dressed in identical, dark green dresses with their long hair loose; of this pair, the girl on the left holds a wicker basket from which the second girl removes leaves and adds them to the smouldering pile. To their right are the other two figures: standing in profile to the right with her head turned in three-quarter view is a girl with brilliant red hair, tied into a ponytail, wearing a rust-coloured garment and leaning on a rake, she gazes down at the mound of leaves; the fourth girl, the smallest of the group, stands at the right edge of the composition in three-quarter view to the left, wearing a purple dress with a red neck tie, holding in her hand an apple and small posy of blue flowers. The mounded leaves are painted in great detail with a trail of blue smoke rising in the left corner. In the background are a line of poplar trees receding into the distance, rising above the line of purple hills or moorland and silhouetted against the yellow sky. Frame: Lely revival, probably original to the painting; made of gilded softwood; the top edge has a wide moulding with floral and acanthus in low relief at the corners and the middle of the rails and stiles, oval bead moulding just below the inside of the wide moulding; from the oval beading is a burnished hollow, separating the outer and inner edges of the frame, next to which is a carved ribbon moulding, finished with a compo acanthus moulding.

Display label

A Gloaming Autumn Leaves, John Everett Millais, 1856 If I could just paint the long fetch of the last light the delicate thorns of the telegraph posts fencing upon Sannick Hill the sky's opalescence mother of pearl with a slight golden flush and clouds pale gongs homecoming smell of paets and smouldering straw and the moon a gash into the light beyond with a rime of scarlet along her prow. My favourite neighbour shelters where the burn falls into white shell-sand. And, recognising the knitting, says something to me like ir dey mammy's gluffs? Yes what's left of them, frail as spider-web, and held together these seven years by a series of scabby darns. Our autumn's brief, subtle and very dear: the sky worn thin, Quink-blue shadows on the hill. If I could even get the ground right, a nacre of gleaming gesso on which to begin. ©Jen Hadfield