December 23, 2013

Happy Holidays!....with Artistic Snow

Abraham Rademaker (1675-1735), Snow Falling on a Dutch Town; gouache and watercolor, 
8 7/16 x 13 1/8 in.

Even though we don't all live in a snowy climate, as a culture we long for a "White Christmas", whether because of Irving Berlin and Bing Crosby or for other sentimental reasons. Winter started off cold here in northern Vermont, with a lovely blanket of snow, but this past weekend I've been sad to see the snow diminish with warm temperatures and, I thought it would be fun to wish all of you, my dear readers, a happy holiday season with a grab bag of snow images from across years and around the world. I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's website and typed in the search word "snow", which you can do here too, and up popped 317 works of art. I chose a variety to show and have posted them here in date order beginning with the earliest, mixing mediums and places of origin. If you click to enlarge the townscape above, you'll see some figures huddled against the cold, and some enjoying a skate on the ice of the canal.

Utagawa Hiroshige, A Wild Duck Near a Snow-laden Shore, ca. 1843; polychrome wood block print,
14 7/8 x 6 3/4 in.

Japanese artists seem to particularly prize the subject of snow, since there were many prints in the Met's collection picturing it in various ways.

Gustave Courbet, The Deer, ca. 1865; oil on canvas, 29 3/8 x 36 3/8 in.

There's always a raw, edgy beauty in Courbet's landscapes.

Claude Monet, Haystacks (Effect of Snow and Sun), 1891; oil on canvas, 25 3/4 x 36 1/4 in.

Monet, painting 25 years later, is entranced by light.

Wilson Alwyn Bentley, [Snow Crystal], ca. 1910; gelatin silver print, 2 5/16 x 3 9/16 in.

Bentley was a self-taught farmer from Vermont, who was the first to photograph single snowflakes, using a microscope attached to a bellows camera.

Alfred Stieglitz, The Terminal, 1893 printed 1911; photogravure, 4 3/4 x 6 5/16 in.

I love this early view of a city street, busy with steaming horses pulling vehicles, messy with slushy snow.

Hashiguchi Goyo, Ibuki Mountain in Snow, 1920; polychrome woodblock print, 9 x 15 in.

Goyo shows us a white countryside, bisected with a still-blue river.

Josef Albers, Vor Meinem Fenster, 1931-32; gelatin silver print, 9 3/16 x 6 5/16 in.

Albers finds order and clarity in a snowy view from his window, the bisection a fence.

Louis Lozowick, Snow Scene, 1934; lithograph, image 13 3/4 x 8 3/4 in. 

It's fun to see an early snow plow, working the streets of New York City.

Ski Ensemble by Shawmut, 1935-45, American; wool.

Since for many, Christmas week means skiing, I couldn't resist including this ski outfit in the Met's collection.

Rockwell Kent, Snow Laden Pines, ca. 1950; gouache on board, image 5 x 6 in.

This is a charming textile design with saplings bent in snow and bright white snowflakes.

Harry Callahan, Chicago, ca. 1950; gelatin silver print, 7 5/8 x 9 5/8 in.

Like Albers, Callahan is inspired by the stark contrasts offered by trees and snow.

Henri Matisse, Snow Flowers, 1951; watercolor and gouache on cut and pasted papers,
66 1/2 x 31 3/4 in.

I doubt that Matisse saw much snow in the south of France, but the description of this work guesses that he might have been inspired by the early spring flower, the Snowdrop.

Dennis Oppenheim, Annual Rings, 1968; mixed media, 40 x 30 in. 

Finally, a piece documenting one of Oppenheim's earth works, Annual Rings. The shoveled lines represent the growth rings of a tree, and they continue across a waterway separating the US from Canada. Whether you are looking out your windows at snow or at palm trees, I hope you have a wonderful holiday week!


  1. Thank you Altoon for this snowy christmas. Our snow has melted and was washed away with 3" of rain. If we would have had all the precip in snow it would have been 30". I guess we were blessed. :) Merrry Christmas.

  2. A lovely post as always We are having a very white and cold Christmas. I am not sure that I have ever seen an Albers photo, so that is a nice surprise. Somehow the images without color seem most evocative. But that may be because the winter landscapes we have up for the holidays are all browns, blacks and cream. Happy holidays to you, too!

  3. Thanks for the comments, Lisa and Ms. Wis. The snow here hasn't melted away entirely, but I do look forward to more of it.

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    1. we had a white christmas last year and these beautiful images really match the mood we had. here in west Dorset today we are having gale force winds and 2 inches of rain just today - no matter for I can look at these and recapture those snowy feelings. thank you for taking the time to select and post them! all good wishes for happy holidays and a creative 2014

    2. You're very welcome, maureen; I enjoyed selecting the images as I looked out at the rain.

  5. Thank you for curating this collection of work. I have some friends who enjoy skiing, so I was happy to see an old ski outfit to show them!