PAINTINGS OF SNOW
My favourite snowy scenes
I’m a complete sucker for snow – probably because I live in London where we never get enough to get tired of it and really experience the inconvenience it can bring if you have it for weeks! You can have a very romantic view of snow if you don’t have to trudge through it in the cold every day through winter. Best of all then, is to enjoy it captured in a painting where you can admire its prettiness from the comfort of indoors!
The Impressionist style with it’s broad, thick brushstrokes suits a depiction of snow perfectly, and those nineteenth century painters are responsible for some of the most famous snow scenes. Part of the impetus behind the swift, impressionistic style was the new availability of pre-mixed and portable oil paint tubes which allowed painters to work outside for the first time, in paint. I don’t know if they really sat outside painting in the snow however. Anyway, here’s perhaps the most iconic of all Impressionist snow scenes….Claude Monet’s The Magpie from 1868-69, with its glistening, optimistic bright light and the little bird sitting on the rickety gate. Monet was the absolute master at capturing the fall of different types of light on the snow and the resulting colours created amidst the whiteness.
Below another bright sunny scene: Alfred Sisley’s Snow Effect At Argeneuil from 1874. The softening of the snow in the sunshine is so well handled and the way it lies across the clods of earth.
My favourite Impressionist snowy landscapes however were actually those that captured the duller, heavier, snowy skies. Below, two such paintings also by Monet: first, Ice In The Seine At Bougival from 1967
And Snow Near Honfleur from 1867.
This is a convincingly overcast and ominious sky in Alfred Sisley’s Snow At Louveciennes from 1878. You can feel the chill in the air that the solitary black-clad woman must be feeling.
A virtuoso painting of snow – wonderfully handled: Winter 1917 by the Russian painter Konstantin Korovin. I love the bold, broad strokes here, the feeling of a wind that has blown the snow off the roofs of the traditional wooden Russian houses. In the Sisley above everything is muted – here it is brilliant and lively.
In contrast a very different mood. John F Carlson was a Swedish-born resident of America, and this is his Winter Silence from 1917. Snowy forest scenes were popular since the Romantic period and I love the feeling of still and almost melancholy gloom.
Another very different forest – the atmospheric painting Winter Twighlight (1891) by the German painter Ludwig Munthe. This one is romantic and much less ominous. It’s maybe a little literal and over-painted but the effect of snow still sitting on the branches which still retain the previous night’s fall is undeniably accomplished.