About this artwork

Paton's picture celebrates spring and nature. Spring has reclaimed the landscape from the clutches of winter, whose only remnants are the snow capped mountains in the background. This picture is a reminder of the cyclical aspect of life. A dead tree and old fence in the foreground are gradually being overtaken by new plants. Paton's use of vivid colour is arresting, from the bright blue sky and deep green of the lush riverbank to the flashes of red in the tiny cockerels and wildflowers in the long grass. Paton was renowned for his meticulously detailed paintings; even the small plants in this picture are identifiable. In the foreground, poisonous Hemlock or 'dead man's oatmeal' flourishes, perhaps a reminder of the fragility of life.

Waller Hugh Paton

Waller Hugh Paton

Paton was born in Dunfermline, the son of a damask designer. After briefly following his father into the textile business he became a landscape painter. Hugh was the younger brother of the artist Sir Joseph Noel Paton, who was a good friend of the art critic and artist John Ruskin. It is likely that both brothers attended Ruskin's Edinburgh lectures of 1853 on the principles of Pre-Raphaelitism, which had a great impact on Hugh's work. In exquisitely meticulous studies he depicted the natural beauty of the Scottish Highlands. Paton displayed skill as both an oil and watercolour painter. He was elected to the Royal Scottish Academy in 1865, and throughout his career he exhibited nearly 400 pictures there.