For the last few weeks, I have been working with a world-class retoucher and general Photoshop genius, Paola Sammartino, to complete a series of photographs based on the Four Seasons. I’m pleased to say that the series is now complete, and available to view here:
Bringing the four seasons of nature to life in human form has been a recurring theme in art down the ages. Nicolas Poussin, for example, painted a famous cycle of paintings on the subject in the mid-17th century. The subject became particularly popular in 18th century France where Francois Boucher, among others, painted many works on this theme.
Most of these works were light and decorative in nature, intended to decorate the rooms of the French aristocracy in Paris and Versailles. They were intended to be appealing, accessible and occasionally titillating; they are not works of great depth or symbolism. As such they typify much of the work of the French Rococo period as painted by Watteau, Boucher and Fragonard. It was a style of painting which went deeply out of fashion around the end of the 18th century, associated as it was with what history subsequently defined as the hedonistic excesses of the French court in the period before the revolution. Only more recently has the Rococo returned to some degree of favour as people have come to appreciate the lightness of touch, and the quality of execution in the paintings. One of the best ways to appreciate the Rococo is to immerse yourself in the huge collection of Rococo works in the Wallace Collection in London.
The completion of the series has been very much a collaborative effort and a full list of the people involved is provided at the end. Like the paintings which inspired them, the photographs are intended to be enjoyed, not studied. I hope you do.
Conceived and photographed: James Hall
Models: Katy Heffernan-Smith, Kryssy Martin, Michael Tomlinson and Simon Lyster at Ugly Models
Styling: James Hall and Claudia Oliver
Hair: Hannah Belfield
Make Up: Fiona Brunt
Post-production and retouching: Paola Sammartino
All images ©James Hall