Autumn views

Whenever autumn arrives, whether in a blaze of brilliant leaves or with subtle changes in the life cycles of flora and fauna, the season holds a special beauty. Natural-science illustrations combine art and science in the close observation of nature, and artwork from around the world and across time can capture the mood, color, and light of the fall season.

watercolor painting of autumn leaves

Untitled 1874, Mary Vaux Walcott, born Philadelphia, PA 1860-died St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada 1940. Smithsonian American Art Museum


Art Nouveau painting of young couple in autumn colors

October (cover illustration for Harper’s Magazine) William Clarke Rice, born Brooklyn, NY 1875-died New York City 1928
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Melvin S. Brotman


Elaborately carved wooden vase

Vase carved in sugar maple burl, by Michelle Holzapel. Holzapfel associates vessels with spirituality. She remembers attending Mass as a child and being impressed by the presentation of the chalice, seeing it as the focal point of both the church and service. Her carved vessels capture this power and elevate simple forms to a higher level of importance. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Fleur and Charles Bresler in honor of Kenneth R. Trapp, curator-in-charge of the Renwick Gallery (1995–2003) © 1993, Michelle Holzapfel


Woodblock print of Japanese woman with autumn leaves

Frost painting autumn leaves, Takeuchi Keishu 1896. Robert O. Muller Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Collection

Make a cup of tea, sit back and soothe your soul with more views of the most soulful season at

Posted: 5 November 2019
About the Author:

Alex di Giovanni is primarily responsible for "other duties as assigned" in the Office of Communications and External Affairs. She has been with the Smithsonian since 2006 and plans to be interred in the Smithson crypt.