As a winter snow storm sweeps over the Okanagan Valley, we find Summerland today quite snowbound. There is so much snow in fact that we could go nowhere. We were informed that the municipal workers had already worked beyond their allotted hours on the weekend. Snow clearing would resume on Tuesday morning. Not that we really wanted to go anywhere, but we did clear a bit of our driveway to make the job a bit lighter in the morning.
So we hunkered down indoors and had a lovely lunch of a plump chicken stuffed with mushroom risotto, and some broccoli. With all this snow I had memories of those glass globes of my childhood containing a small landscape with trees which you could shake to make it snow.
A winter landscape brings to mind countless paintings, by Canadian artists and many Scandinavian artists. The effects were always very picturesque. Lawren S. Harris (1885-1970) was particularly adept at this sort of thing, as was the Swedish artist Gustaf Fjaestad (1868-1948). His Silence – Winter, 1914, is presented here.This is the type of work that Lawren S. Harris and J.E.H. Macdonald (1873-1932) saw at an exhibition of contemporary Swedish art held in Buffalo in 1912-13, and they were inspired to do something similar with the Canadian landscape. Another Canadian painter who was inspired by Scandinavian painting was Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Côté (1869-1937). His Settlement on the Hillside (1909) is shown here. Even the great Claude Monet once visited Scandinavia where he met Fritz Thaulow (1847-1906), a Norwegian artist. Thaulow later went to Paris where he painted for a few years. His Winter on the Mesna River near Lillehammer is shown here.
Finally, there is Clarence Gagnon (1887-1942) another French Canadian painter who not only painted in Canada, but also in Scandinavia, where he often vacationed. He was also a very fine etcher and his illustrations for Louis Hémon’s Maria Chapdeleine are classics of Canadian art. But his most cherished works are those that were inspired by the landscape of his native Comté Charlevoix. His Village in the Laurentian Mountains (1927) illustrated here.
In all of these works, winter is given a decorative treatment, and a very pleasing one at that. All of the painters mentioned here can be Googled and admired at leisure. Better still, they can be admired in a number of fine galleries and museums in Canada. The Scandinavian works can be found in a number of collections, but the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm has a number of them in its collection, as does Prince Eugen’s Waldemarsudde museum in the same city.
© Roger H. Boulet, 2015