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During the later part of his career Hornel made a speciality of pictures of young girls in a landscape, or beside a pool of water or the sea. This was a subject he had invented and he painted it repeatedly. As with 'Autumn', the oddity of all these pictures is that the children seem embedded in leaves or undergrowth. The colours and shapes overwhelm the subject. The lack of reality implies that everything, the children and the swans, is a symbol of some general idea, perhaps about innocence, although this is not specified. The paintings were popular, probably on account of their sentimentality. Hornel made a great deal of money and eventually bequeathed his large house in Kirkcudbright as a Library and Art Gallery for the town.

September 2004