Winter Scenes for the Winter Solstice

On this winter solstice, the official start of winter and the shortest day of the year, what immediately comes to mind is the exquisite selection of winter scenes hanging at Hawthorne Fine Art.

Walter Launt Palmer, Hoar Frost (click to enlarge)

Best known for his paintings of snowy landscapes, Walter Launt Palmer (1854–1932) is well represented in the gallery. A true master of color effects, Palmer used warm pinks and purples to create shade and depth while still maintaining the bright white purity of the soft fallen snow. This technique was revolutionary and influential in the late-nineteenth century. Hoar Frost, the largest Palmer painting currently in the gallery, overwhelms the viewer with its stunning prismatic light effects. The snow covered ground, bare trees, and feathery underbrush dance with sunbeams rendered with lively strokes of rosy pigment, creating a sense of warmth and welcome despite the frigid winter’s day.

Walter Launt Palmer, Brook in Winter (click to enlarge)

Likewise, Palmer’s pastel Brook in Winter is illuminated with alternating patches of orange- and blue-hued snow. The reflections on the shimmering surface of the brook are rendered with quick but precise strokes of green, blue, orange, and yellow, continuing the coloring effects that infuse Palmer’s work with vitality.

WIlson Irvine, Winter in the Connecticut Hills       (click to Enlarge)

Wilson Irvine (1869–1936), an American Impressionist associated with the Old Lyme Art Colony in Connecticut, used similar color techniques in his Winter in the Connecticut Hills to achieve a sun-dappled effect. The rich lavender-blue tone used for the shadows creates a dynamic surface, drawing the viewer’s eye up the snow covered hill to the charming red farmhouse. The earthy reddish-brown tones of the trees and house emanate life and warmth even amid the chilly landscape.

Lauren Sansaricq, Winter’s Full Moon, 2009 (click to enlarge)

In stark contrast to these warm sun-filled scenes is Lauren Sansaricq’s (b.1990) contemplative and almost haunting Winter’s Full Moon. The icy blue tonalities of this image are interrupted by the pulsing orb, whose light seems to gently swirl downward onto two figures captivated by the clarity and magnificence of this New Year’s Eve full moon.

Alice Hirsch, Hudson River in Winter, N.Y., 1916 (click to enlarge)

In further opposition to these crisp, countryside and wilderness landscapes is Alice Hirsch’s (1888–1935) urban winter wonderland, Hudson River in Winter, N.Y. One of Hawthorne Fine Art’s newest acquisitions, Hudson River is typical of Hirsch’s thick, brushy Impressionist technique and choice of New York City subject matter. The depiction of the icy Hudson River exemplifies Hirsch’s interest in the light effects and unusual reflective qualities of the water’s surface. However, her experimentation leans more toward the texture and application of pigment as opposed to the diverse color spectrum employed by Palmer and Irvine. Although academically trained, Hirsch demonstrates a similar devotion to New York scenes as the Ashcan School, known for their rejection of the academy’s conservatism, especially in her search for beauty along the busy and industrialized shores of the Hudson.

Hawthorne Fine Art wishes you very happy holidays and all the best for the New Year. And for those of you who still await your first snowfall of the season, enjoy!:

Walter Launt Palmer, The First Snow, 1898       (click to enlarge)

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