This sensuous and evocative scene conflates two of Crane's most distinctive qualities, the desire to paint figurative subjects on a grand scale and the drive to explore allegorical meaning as a means to convey profound moral truths. Time and again throughout his career Crane returns to the theme of the seasons. They date from all periods of his career, and most are concerned with the joy that a new season, most often Spring, brings.
In these Rooms, 12 June 2002, lot 44, Christie's sold one of Crane's most ambitious meditations on this theme, his enormous mural-like painting The Fate of Persephone, exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1878. It shows Persephone, the goddess of spring, being abducted by Pluto, the lord of the underworld, as she gathers flowers in the vale of Enna. At the behest of her mother, Demeter, Zeus would decree that Persephone must return to earth for half the year, and the ancient world saw the myth as a metaphor for the rotation of the seasons. The goddess's retreat to Hades heralded the onset of autumn and winter, her re-appearance the advent of spring and summer.
Until 1887 Crane exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery and was a member of the Institute of Painters in Water Colours until 1889 when he was elected to the Royal Water Colour Society. This beautiful and alluring watercolour was included at the Royal Water Colour Society Winter exhibition in 1895-6. A reviewer for the Art Journal commented 'Mr Walter Crane's "Summer", a graceful piece of decoration entirely characteristic of his curiously learned art. The figure of the maiden, lightly draped in diaphenous white robes, which lies outstretched among the marguerites with which the foreground of the picture is filled, is less robust and fully developed than is usual in representations of the season in full bloom; and her attitude is not so much one of rejoicing in the strength of youth, as one of langour and exhaustion; but these deficiencies are compensated for by the technical beauties, by charm of design and delicacy of colour, and by the individuality of manner which gives to Mr Crane's work a place by itself.'