Each painting features a young woman personifying the harmonious cycle of nature, with a background featuring distinctive seasonal features, which communicates the mood of each season.
In the Seasons, Mucha uses nature, wildlife and women as subtle metaphors for life, death and rebirth: his spiritual philosophy was beginning to emerge.
Mucha chose to produce the Seasons on colour lithograph because he was keen to make art accessible and affordable for all: he soon achieved his desire.
Consequently, the popularity of his affordable art meant he quickly created similar pânneaux works: The Flowers (1898), The Arts (1898), The Times of the Day (1899), The Precious Stones (1900), and The Moon and the Stars (1902).
The Four Seasons: Spring (1896)
Mucha personifies Spring as an innocent, fair-haired figure. The translucent white dress is a metaphor for virginity. As she stands beneath blossoming tree, the blossom flowers appear in her hair symbolises the potential of new life.
In her hand she holds a branch fashioned into a lyre. Three small birds sit on the lyre – the use of birds in each season is one of the consistent metaphors in these paintings.
The Four Seasons: Summer (1896)
With a delicate background of blue sky, Mucha portrays Summer as a sultry brunette sunbathing in the glorious sunshine. Lounging among red poppies, Summer leans against a grapevine, splashing her feet in the shallow pool beneath. This serene image, and the metaphor for adulthood, is loved by many people.
The Four Seasons: Autumn (1896)
Autumn is represented as a playful and bountiful figure. Set amongst a rich tapestry of autumnal plants, fruits and flowers, her long auburn hair holds a wreath of chrysanthemums. She gathers grapes from an abundant vine; a metaphor for the bountiful supplies that Autumn offers.
The Four Seasons: Winter (1896)
The influence of Japanese culture and woodcuts is best exemplified by Mucha’s fourth season: Winter. Standing in a snow-covered, frozen landscape and huddled in a green cape (representing future growth), Winter warms a small bird, while three other birds watch enviously.