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Presenting the beauty of winter landscapes in art

Throughout time, the beauty of winter has been beautifully interpreted by many thoughtful artists. Whether it’s depicting the subtle and still allure of a winter day or the tumultuous stormy influences of the harshest snowy experience, artists have been drawn to presenting this climate. Half of the Earth’s geography will never experience winter or snow, the mystery of which provides artists with a compelling inspiration to portray. Part of the beauty of the winter season is not only the snow, ice and cold but also the activities, play and serenity that still go on despite winter’s climatic challenges.

Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters and Brid Trap, a painting by Pieter Brueghel The Younger of people enjoying a frozen lake
Pieter Brueghel The Younger, Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters and Brid Trap

In both Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s 1565 painting, Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters and Bird Trap, and Pierre August-Renoir’s 1868 painting, Skaters in the Bois de Boulogne, skaters are shown as out for a fun, social experience, regardless of the chill-in-the-air, that is almost touchable. The overcast skies, and the rigidity of the trees, reinforce the feeling of winter. Richard T. Prankes, The Break Away by Prankearts (2015) enthusiastically shows hockey-on-a-pond taking priority for a family over the duplicity of snow and cold.

The true to life part of winter, is that everyday life must go on and it does. This beauty is found in the view of a person walking their dog on a dark and snowy street, in Richard Savoie’s, Snow on Montreal.  The artist reveals snow, in breath-taking realism, while the action of this individual clearly shows the necessity of walking their dog, which takes precedence over the weather conditions. Likewise, Eugène Galien-Laloue presents in his 1941 piece, Paris Porte Saint-Denis, tenacious shoppers who overlook the cold of winter to pursue their enjoyment of material findings.

Laloue Paris Porte Sanit-Denis, a painting by Eugène Galien of shoppers in the streets of paris on a grey and rainy day
Eugène Galien, Laloue Paris Porte Sanit-Denis

The dramatic beauty of winter can unfold in the rather isolated portrayal of snow with buildings, as seen in J. McIntosh Patrick’s work Winter in Angus (1935).  The snow on the turrets and pitched rooves, together with the ground and trees, shows the beauty that snow and its effects bring to all exterior surfaces.

Dealing with the hazards of winter, which include slippery roads and impassable sidewalks, makes it necessary for people to shovel snow, drive extra carefully, and dress warmly. Artists also attractively convey these aspects of winter in art. The 1914 piece, Love of Winter, artist George Wesley Bellows, shows adults and children in their seasonal finery, even while standing in snow drifts. Another example of experiencing winter’s challenges is found in artist Ingrid Dohm’s 2015 work, Urban Snowstorm. Here the observer can truly encounter the blowing snow, snowy roads, and cold air that confronts both motorists and pedestrians. Artist Dave Rheaume’s work, Blizzard on Bay, then depicts the digging out from a substantial snow storm, and lets the observer feel like they are participating in the activity.

Ein Sonniger Wintertag (A Sunny Winter's Day), a painting by artist Walter Moras of a tree lined road on a sunny and snowy winters day
Walter Moras, Ein Sonniger Wintertag (A Sunny Winter's Day)

Above all artists have in the past, and continue to, show the serenity and peace in the beauty of winter landscapes. Walter Moras, a German landscape painter, was known for displaying winter realism in his art. He painted A Sunny Winter’s Day, revealing snow shadows together with the brush of sun reaching across the leafless trees, giving the viewer the feeling they could walk down this road now and feel the intimate presence of the winter landscape.

So, how do winter landscapes in art contribute to beauty? They do so by showing the human desire to overcome uncontrollable obstacles that winter often presents. The beauty of winter, and its effects on lives, is something that artists are very adept at representing in a variety of perspectives. The intangible and rather indescribable beauty that winter landscapes offer, is only second to experiencing the real thing.

By Shantel Susan


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