FRANK HANS JOHNSTON, O.S.A., A.R.C.A.
THE BLUE EYES OF SPRING
oil on masonite
22 ins x 28 ins; 55.9 cms x 71.1 cms
“To-day, (Youth) meets you unexpectedly on the hill-side; and was there ever a face in this world so celestialized by smile! All the features are framed of light. Black eyes are beads – blue eyes are diamonds. Gaze, then, into the blue eyes of Spring, and you feel that in the untroubled lustre, there is something more sublime than in the heights of the cloudless heavens, or in the depths of the waveless seas. More sublime, because essentially spiritual.”
Bluest eyes of spring peep out
From the grasses tall:
Ah sweet violets – I choose
Them the first of all.
Plucking them, I think of things
More than I can tell;
But my every though, aloud
Sings the nightingale.
And her song, that tells my thoughts,
Loudly echoing flows;
So my tender secret now
All the forest knows.
Franz Johnston was renowned for his ability to capture the effects of light, particularly those present on snowy, cloudless days. This lot is an ample indication of his skill. Johnston’s scene is tranquil and soft, cloaked in its downy mantle of snow. A warm, mellow light trickles through the tree branches and dances upon the river’s water. The viewer is both welcomed to a moment of serenity - the intake of crisp air coupled with the rosy haze of a late Winter’s morning - and left breathless by the splendour of the 'blue eyes of Spring', glistening gem-like in azure and turquoise.
Christopher North, “Winter Rhapsody,” in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, No. CLXXIV, Volume XXVIII, December 1830, page 863.
“From the Neuer Fruhling,” Selections from the Poetical Works of Heinrich Heine, MacMillan and Co., London, 1878, page 88.
Private Collection, Toronto