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Ice and snow in paintings of Little Ice Age winters

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All aspects of the weather can be shown in traditional landscape paintings (Bonacina 1939). So far, however, most studies of the relation between weather and painting have concentrated on clouds and their accurate depiction (Thornes 2000). The recent web-based exhibition “Painting the weather”, organised by the BBC and the National Gallery (Stemp 2002), indicated a range of ways in which weather may influence painting. Two traditional museum based exhibitions have recently suggested links between winter weather and landscape art. “Holland frozen in time: The Dutch winter landscape in the Golden Age”was the title of an exhibition in The Hague (Von Suchtelen 2001) dealing with winter landscapes in the 1600–75 period, the Dutch Golden Age. Ice scenes dominate. An exhibition in Washington, DC, “Impressionists in winter: Effets de neige” (Moffett et al. 1998), showed conditions in northern France between about 1860 and 1890. Snow was dominant. Even allowing for the different techniques, periods and locations, the differences in the meteorology between these two exhibitions was striking. They reinforced Neuberger’s (1970) contention that climate has a major, often subconscious, influence on the painted scene.

ice and snow.pdf

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