Most of Lindsay's major oil paintings were completed from the mid 1930s to the end of the 1940s. His dedication to mastering the medium meant a great deal of physical energy was needed, with his output of watercolours, etchings and pen drawings becoming somewhat less during those years. His studio at 12 Bridge Street gave him access to many different artists' models and he made numerous pencil sketches, using them to work up later compositions.
Seen regularly in his watercolours and etchings, Lindsay's subjects often celebrate the ancient world. It is probable that Spring's Innocence celebrates the Great or City Dionysia, a grand urban festival in honour of Dionysus - the Greek name for the more commonly known Bacchus. Dionysus was the God of wine and song, usually depicted in art and literature accompanied by maenads, satyrs and sirens. The festival begins with a procession in which young soldiers played a prominent role. Citizens could dress, or undress, as they pleased. There is no doubt that the figure adorned with animal skin on the extreme left would denote the actor as a satyr - a creature for whom Lindsay had an abiding fondness. He may also be the winning poet of the festival, who always receives a crown of ivy. The young noble woman would be designated as the Basket Carrier. At the end of the festival revelers roamed the streets with musical instruments drinking wine. The Dionysian Festivals began as wild orgiastic practices, but became much more civilized and formal and it was out of these festivals that Greek drama eventually evolved.
Lindsay's linear composition implies both a procession and revelry. The fairness of the central nude figure indicates a leisured life, as does her gold drape. The two main figures in the foreground linger, as if wanting to be left behind and alone from the procession, with the young soldier having relieved the girl of her basket of luscious offerings.
Many of Lindsay's major oils are much more vertical in composition however his choice of a horizontal canvas is entirely appropriate for this work. The palette is almost golden in hue, as if dusk is falling and allows the luminosity of the central figure to become the focus for the viewer. It is as if we are standing on the side watching these young people pass by - and perhaps wondering why we haven't also been invited.
We are grateful to Helen Glad for providing this catalogue entry