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Winter – Artwork that Says it All

January 12, 2013

Temperatures have dropped way below zero, heavy snow has covered fields and forests, so I guess it’s high time to put some warm socks on and snuggle up in front of a warm fire. A good companion, no doubt, would be an interesting book, yet the new technologies offer even more – laptop on my knees opens up broad horizons and I find myself browsing the latest articles on art and culture.

The Guardian, quite boldly, describes the first official portrait of Duchess of Cambridge (in their opinion it “shows her washed-out, heavy lidded and seemingly fanged”), reminds us about the must see exhibition – Manet: Portraying Life, that will open on the 26th of January and names photography as “the art of our time” (I’m afraid I agree on that!). In the end I’m drawn to the section called “Your Art”, which is exploring a very appropriate subject – winter.

I haven’t got anything to share, as we are invited “to interpret the theme in any way we wish using any medium we like – apart from photography”, so I decide to take part in naming an artwork that, in my opinion, best sums up the season.

So… I’ve chosen “Forest in the Winter” by Isaac Ilyich Levitan.

by I.I.Levitan

“Forest in the Winter” by I.I.Levitan (image found on

I have chosen a painting by a Russian artist (although he was actually born in Lithuania into a Jewish family), because whenever I think about winter I remember everything I’ve heard about real Russian winters – territories where the temperatures drop to about -40C and the snow is so deep that, once dug, the paths turn into tunnels!

In my opinion winter is the season when everything stops and I love this painting as it’s portraying forest that seems so silent and calm. Trees covered in snow obstruct light and this adds some secrecy, and the darker, shadowy part in the distance, simply draws you in – I wouldn’t mind going for a walk in such a pretty woodland.

I also love the colour of the snow – that tinge of greenish blue and the different brush strokes – long and even, that were used to create snow drifts, and tiny little “taps” that reveal piles of white fluffy wool-like balls on the trees.

You can see it is a cold wintery afternoon, this atmosphere has been brilliantly transformed onto canvas – no wonder Levitan was said to advance the genre of something called “mood landscape”.

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What artwork would you name as “saying it all”?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 13, 2013 12:10 pm

    yes, I like the ‘juiciness’ of that painting, too, how lusciously thick and creamy the oils look.
    The artwork that says it all for me as far as a cold crystalline wintry feel is the whole oeuvre of Nicholas Roerich, a Russian painter from the first part of the 20th century. He painted the Himalayas from life with egg tempera. I love his colours and compositions and the deep spiritual atmosphere that permeates his relationship the landscape there.

    • January 13, 2013 4:28 pm

      Hi, Sarah, thank you for sharing your opinion on a wintery scene.

      I do know Nicholas Roerich, to tell the truth I was lucky enough to go to one of his exhibitions. I was just a teenager at the time and I don’t think I was taking it seriously enough… Everyone was saying “do you know whose exhibition is coming to town?”, “have you seen the paintings?” and I thought – so what? As the only thing I remember was seeing lots of mountains… Of course now I’d be very keen to have a closer look at these mountains once again, as I’m sure that they’d evoke completely different emotions.



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