Snow and ice has been the main protagonists of January’s weather. So I thought my painting of the month could be representative of the conditions. Few artists have utilised winter themes because of the limited palette and, simply, the difficulties in painting. Peter Bruegel the Elder famously painted Hunters in the Snow in 1565 representing both the harshness and the joy of Winter.
Camille Pissarro from the Ashmolean collection in Oxford is my choice though. A regular “go to” painting for me, when in Oxford, Farm at Montfoucault in Snow, Pissarro painted between 1874 – 1876. This was around the time the Impressionist were starting to exhibit in Paris. The artist was well established by then, and has been referred by some as the ‘Father of Impressionism.’
Farm at Montfoucault in snow, near Mayenne, south west of Paris, illustrates the reality of subsistence farming. The style shows Pissarro displaying short brushstrokes in thicker paint than he would have previously practised, creating a more tougher surface in keeping with the landscape. The palette is limited and there are none of the bright colours of spring and summer favoured by impressionists. They are to come.
The Ashmolean Museum holds the largest collection of Pissarro’s works and set in a wider group of exceptional nineteenth and twentieth century paintings.