Snowy Landscapes

By Rathbore, Eliza E. | Southwest Art, March 1, 1999 | Go to article overview

Snowy Landscapes


Rathbore, Eliza E., Southwest Art


Impressionists in Winter: Effets de Neige presents the first thorough investigation of the subject of Impressionist winter landscapes. While such a thematic approach might seem a superficial one, the subject of this exhibition goes to the heart of one of the central issues of Impressionism: a dedication to painting specific effects of weather and light that is unprecedented in the history of art. The subject of winter-clearly the most inhospitable season for pleinair painting-provides some of the most exceptional and most spellbindingly beautiful paintings in Impressionism.

Inspired by Alfred Sisley's SNOW AT LOUVECIENNES [1874] in The Phillips Collection, this exhibition of 63 works presents an opportunity to consider the subject of snow in Impressionist painting in an unprecedented way. While anyone might have come across one or several of these exceptional works in various museums in this country or abroad, it comes as a surprise to most to learn that the Impressionists painted hundreds of paintings of snow, or effets de neige, as they came to be called. Three artists especially were drawn to paint them: Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, and Camille Pissarro. Their shared fascination led all three to repeatedly seek out opportunities to paint landscapes in snow. Yet each brought to the subject a highly individual response that we find reflected in the paintings assembled here.

In addition to these three artists, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Gustave Caillebotte, and Paul Gauguin also painted snowscapes, though far fewer. …

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