I think summer is definitely here now. We've had temperatures in the high nineties for the last few days, so it looks like summer is with us once again, even if not yet officially.
So today, in honor of the return of my favorite time of year, I'm putting up a photo of one of the paintings I loved as a child – Hogarth's "The Graham Children." The reproduction is also from one of the books I loved as a child – the 1954 edition of the World Book Encyclopedia. I was given a set (as a Christmas gift, I believe), and for the next few years, I spent countless hours studying each volume. Can't say I read them cover to cover, but they held endless fascination. I especially loved the articles on children's literature, and costumes through the ages. And, of course, the sections on painting.
My cousin MLB recently wrote something on her blog about reading the World Book when she was a kid, too. I didn't realize it was also one of her passions. We're always kidding each other about being "identical cousins," but I suppose it is possible that "bookishness" and a love of reading does get passed along in families.
I'm not sure why this particular painting always makes me think of summer – maybe it's the cherries the oldest girl is holding in her hand. Or maybe it's just that summer was when I had a huge chunk of unformatted time to devote to looking at pictures in books. You can see a much better reproduction of the painting at the National Gallery's web site (that's National Gallery in London, not DC). They also have a leaflet available, with information about the painting and its subjects.
But I prefer my old World Book version – grainy, a bit dark, and slightly out of focus. That's how I always remember it.