Springtime in Runnymede, South Carolina

Oil on canvas
40 1/8 x 50 1/8 inches
Now on view: One Morgan Square, Spartanburg, South Carolina

As exhibited in: Scenic Impressions: Southern Interpretations from the Johnson Collection, 2015–2018, Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, Tennessee; Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia; McKissick Museum of Art at the University of South Carolina, Columbia; Telfair Museums, Savannah, Georgia; Knoxville Museum of Art, Tennessee; Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts at Wofford College, Spartanburg, South Carolina

William Silva’s best-known landscapes, a series he titled In the Garden of Dreams, were poetic representations of Southern gardens rife with Spanish moss and colorful vegetation. These atmospheric interpretations featured bright dashes of color for flowers, usually azaleas, and reflections in ponds—all rendered with a loaded brush. Many of his canvases, especially the smaller ones, were painted en plein air.

Clearly Silva had benefited from his time in Paris where he might have seen some of Claude Monet’s earliest water lily paintings. The perspective in Springtime, Runnymede, leads the viewer into the landscape in contrast to Monet’s typically elevated position. However, Silva’s color selection and use of reflections in the middle distance resemble similar motifs in paintings by the great French Impressionist. Runnymede is a plantation located along the Ashley River near Charleston.

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