Blossoming trees, a symbol of re-birth, are a recurring motif in Goncharova's work and a subject she explored through numerous styles and movements. This love of nature can be traced back to the early childhood years she spent on her grandmother's estate which spanned several villages on the borders of the Orlov and Tula provinces.
In Printemps Goncharova has used the formal technique of Cubo-Futurism to reduce the shapes of a flowering forest into a semiabstract patterning of distinct forms. Ranging from the earthly grey tree trunks, to the delicate pink blossoming treetops amidst the softly gradated deep blue sky, each area seems to speak of a jagged interlocking of forces combining to create an overriding sense of energy and growth. Perspective has been flattened, as in traditional Russian and also Japanese woodcuts, so that the forms remain paramount to the composition.
It is in these respects that the compositional development of this painting seems to visually echo a letter Goncharova wrote to the Russian artist Boris Anrep in 1914, in which she outlined the central importance of her Russian roots and indigenous art and their key roles in determining the great collective art of the future. 'The material of the work, and beyond that, its creative spirit, lies not in the individual', she wrote, 'but in the people, in the nation to which the individual belongs, in its earth and nature. It is part of the common popular soul, like a flower on a huge tree. True, the flower may be torn form the tree and planted in an artificial growing environment, and at first it will perhaps begin to bloom still better, but even so, it would have been nicer had the flower remained on the tree. For the Russian artist, this tree is Russia and the East, but not Europe, from whence she can and must take military ships, aeronautics, methods for attack and defence. The artist, however, needs to devote his life to indigenous places, to take life from indigenous places' (quoted in 'Letter to Boris Anrep', 1914, Amazons of the Avant-Garde, exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, p. 312).
Printemps comes from the collection of the esteemed Modern Art expert Ronald Alley, to whom the painting is dedicated on the reverse, following his time studying in Paris in the 1950s where he befriended Goncharova and her circle. Alley went on to become Keeper of the Modern Collection of the Tate from 1965 to 1986, and during his tenure was responsible for securing some of the most important acquisitions still in the Tate collection.