April Love, Arthur Hughes
Hughes’s best known work, and one of the most popular Pre-Raphaelite paintings in general, this visual poem to the fleeting nature of young love was first exhibited accompanied by an excerpt from Alfred Tennyson’s poem, “The Miller’s Daughter”:
Love is hurt with jar and fret,
Love is made a vague regret,
Eyes with idle tears are set,
Idle habit links us yet;
What is Love? For we forget.
Ah no, no.
Hughes has placed the young man in deep shadow, his face pressed against the young woman’s hand. She has turned away from him, shedding a tear, her eyes downcast toward a broken blossom and fallen petals.
The painting was not, as in the case of many Pre-Raphaelite paintings associated with literary works, meant to coincide with the poem; the verse merely continues the theme of the painting’s emotional tone and incorporated symbolism.
The intricate detail of the ivy is a prime example of the fidelity to nature so admired by the Pre-Raphaelite painters and their circle.
There is a pencil and wash sketch for the painting in the Tate’s collection.
The model for the young woman was Tryphena Foord, who Hughes married around the time this was painted.