Postcards from the Snow

Winter’s been so long in Sweden. It seems to have been dark for about 6 months. But that means plenty of time in the studio which is what I’ve been doing. With the radio and cat to keep me company. (How great is internet radio!) I’ll show you some of the results of my labour in a few weeks.

The heavy snow recently lit up the whole landscape.

Photo of snow landscape on the way to the shops.

We managed to see a couple of deers recently while we were walking through the forest at dusk. Luckily I had my camera. Magic.

photo of a deer in the forest by Susan Wellington

Paintings by major artists with snow in them are quite a rarity in the history of painting. There’s a few classic ones like Brueghel’s ‘Winter’ (1565)

The Hunters in the Snow (Winter) 1565 - Brueghel

and Courbet’s stag paintings, this one below from 1867. (Courbet painted more than thirty hunt pictures from 1850 through 1873. He loved hunting.)

And the Impressionists such as Monet and Utrillo painted quite a few too. Much less bleak than Casper David Friedrich’s bleak “Cloister Cemetery in the Snow” (Destroyed in 1945 in Berlin.)

claude-monet-paintings-1873-1878

Caspar David Friedrich 'Cloister Cemetery in the Snow'

However even in these paintings the snow isn’t really the main theme. These are rather genre paintings, where situations and scenes from everyday life are depicted rather than landscapes. Though sometimes these categories can be pretty blurry.

Is Monet’s ‘Train in the Snow’, above, really a genre painting or a landscape? I’d say landscape as the figures are insignificant. But it’s still debatable. You could make an argument for it as a type of genre painting with trains as the main subject. Though I think it’s really the winter atmosphere that wins the argument.

And the same with the Courbet. One of the features of genre painting is that the scene should be painted in a non-idealized, non dramatic way. Like real life. (Who decided this I’d like to know. Since when is real life not dramatic?) Though Courbet paints the death of the stag like it was a character in a classical history painting. So is it really genre?

Basically the snowy landscape wasn’t a particularly popular subject for artists to paint whether genre or landscape. The art patrons from the northern hemisphere didn’t much like to be reminded of the cold probably. But it is beautiful I think. Especially when you can go back to your centrally heated home. Here’s one of my contributions.

Oil painting of winter snow landscape

20 Imaginative and Strange Ice Sculptures. 

Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’ from ‘The Four Seasons’.

‘I think that it can be said of a lot of artists, and myself included, that we made the same record over and over from the beginning.’
Boz Scaggs

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