Let it Snow! Paintings of Winter

Posted on Oct 5 by SEASONS Magazine

Childe Hassam, High Bridge, New York, 1922. Oil on canvas. SBMA, Bequest of Margaret Mallory.

Childe Hassam, High Bridge, New York, 1922. Oil on canvas. SBMA, Bequest of Margaret Mallory.

Let it Snow! Paintings of Winter
On View October 7, 2018 – January 6, 2019

French Impressionists Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro are often credited with painting the first snow scenes in their newly-minted pictorial language of gesturally applied brushwork and juxtaposed unblended touches of raw hue. But the challenge of depicting snow scenes, which as a matter of course, pose the problem of a limited tonal range that can still blind with refracted and reflected sunlight, has long been a part of the repertoire in the Western tradition of painting. In this installation of 21 works, a range of European and American artists are represented (including George Bellows, Henri Le Sidaner, Maurice de Vlaminck, Marsden Hartley, Maurice Utrillo, Colin Campbell Cooper, Bruce Crane, Childe Hassam, Wilson Irvine, Jervis McEntee, Grandma Moses, Walter Palmer, and Edward Redfield) and in each canvas, a different motif allows the artist to take expressive advantage of the picturesque effects that snowfall uniquely occasions. Whether the pristine blanketing of a Parisian street scene or the hushed quiet of new snow in the woods of New England, this special installation enfolds the viewer in winter’s poetry as conjured through the brush.

In a unique touch to capture the seasonal mood of the holidays, this installation employs special lighting that enhances the glistening effect of these painted snowscapes and a cool wall color to create the illusion of a drop in temperature.

Among the works on view are:

Stanislas Lépine, La Place de la Concorde, n.d. Oil on canvas. SBMA, Gift of Mr. Daniel Gainey.

Stanislas Lépine, La Place de la Concorde, n.d. Oil on canvas. SBMA, Gift of Mr. Daniel Gainey.

Stanislas Lépine was a student of Camille Corot and like the great Barbizon school artist, he specialized in capturing fugitive effects of climate and atmosphere. He is known for his many moonlit port scenes, but he also specialized in picturesque urban views of Paris, such as the one below. Like the marine specialist Eugène Boudin (teacher of Claude Monet), Lépine was particularly attracted to the gray light of overcast days. In this painting, the familiar outline of the Obelisk of Luxor becomes indistinct through the muffling haze of a frigid winter’s day. Visible daubs of paint evoke the drifts of snow, sullied by the dirt and grime of city life.

Like Camille Pissarro and Claude Monet, whose work the Delaware-born artist came to admire,

Edward Willis Redfield, Landscape of a Snow Scene, n.d. Oil on canvas. SBMA, Gift of Mary and Will Richeson, Jr.

Edward Willis Redfield, Landscape of a Snow Scene, n.d. Oil on canvas. SBMA, Gift of Mary and Will Richeson, Jr.

Edward Redfield was known for his snowscapes. Along with his teacher Robert Henri, Redfield traveled to Paris in 1899, where he soon came under the spell of the Impressionists. Once settled back in Pennsylvania, he created a niche for himself by painting snowscapes like the one above, done entirely outdoors and often in the bitter cold. Here he expertly captures the cool purplish light of an overcast winter’s day. Gestural brushwork communicates the hardened crust of the heavy snowfall and the sheen of ice along part of the creek that has begun to freeze.

Grandma Moses, The Hunters, 1946. Oil on board. SBMA, Gift of Margaret P. Mallory.

Grandma Moses, The Hunters, 1946. Oil on board. SBMA, Gift of Margaret P. Mallory.

Entirely self-taught, Grandma Moses became a minor celebrity in 1940 when she was given her first one-woman exhibition in a New York gallery. It was upon the occasion of this turning point in her accidental career as an artist that she was dubbed “Grandma Moses” for the piquancy of her charmingly naïve depictions of American rural life. Robertson (her real sir name) was already in her 70s when she went from farmer’s wife to artist. The ideological needs created by the Great War likely had much to do with her powerful, home-grown appeal. This is a typical work, in which Robertson’s original skill in needlepoint is evident in the miniaturist precision of her description of evergreen foliage. She often copied elements from popular chromolithographs made by Currier & Ives, and was inspired by song lyrics to imagine scenes of patriotic Americanness, often set well in the past.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is located at 1130 State St., Santa Barbara.

The Museum is open Tuesday – Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and free Thursday evenings from 5 – 8 p.m., 805/963-4364, www.sbma.net.

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