Reflections at the Spring
Perhaps pausing from a walk, the subject stands bare footed in a brook, lost in her thoughts. The flaxen colour of her hair is complemented by the brilliant blue of her dress, making the subject distinct from the landscape. Although the model is unknown it is likely to have been Smythe’s daughter, Minnie, who also became a painter.
Smythe, who painted rural landscapes, people, animals, genre and maritime scenes, became associated with a group of painters called the ‘Idyllists’. The Idyllic school was a British 19th century art movement whose rural landscapes combined elements of social realism and idealism. Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) admired the group, writing about them in letters to his brother, Theo. Today the Idyllists are seen as one of the earliest manifestations of the social realism movement in art.