The Surprisingly Interesting History of Winter Landscape Painting, Pt. 1/4: 1400-1870

Happy 2021, folks! I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely feeling a great swell of hope and gratitude as we move forward into this new year, with its promise of vaccines, a reopened economy, and rekindled friendships and community ties. Fingers crossed!

Anyway, as many of you know, I have a bit of an obsessive personality. I’m the kind of person who gets easily fixated on projects or subjects of interest, sometimes worryingly so. And my latest obsession—as odd and passionate as any—has actually been the history of winter landscape painting. Yep, you read that right. Since the week before Christmas, I have spent several hours every day scouring the internet in search of awe-inspiring winter landscapes from art history. My tired eyes have scanned thousands of paintings, and I’ve finally come up with a list of over 1000 that I want to share with you in chronological order—a diverse selection which I think will beautifully illustrate the story of winter landscape painting (at least in the West). And may I just say: it’s not as boring as it sounds! In fact, I think it’s riveting stuff. I hope you will agree.

How, you may ask, did I become so fixated on such a bizarre topic? Well, like many folks, I’ve long enjoyed the glittering and austere beauty of winter landscapes. It’s a big reason I loved The Revenant, for example, and sometimes feel nostalgic for the three winters I endured in Canada. I’m not a big fan of the cold, but I love what cold weather does to the land. That said, I only became interested in this particular topic—the history of winter landscape painting—when my wife posted an article from NPR over the holidays called “These Artists Will Change Your Mind About Winter” by Susan Stamberg. It contains some great lesser-known examples of winter landscapes as well as some fun commentary. “For me,” Stamberg writes, “the perfect way to experience snow is to see it hanging on the wall of a great museum!” I can empathize.

Anyway, that article sparked my interest and led me to do a quick search of other lists of winter landscape paintings from art history. What I found was that most of the lists—such as here, here, here, and here—recycled the same dozen or so famous winter landscapes with not that much variation. There has to be more than just these, I thought. In fact, I knew there was. I knew enough about the massive and diverse history of Western painting to know that there was indeed much more to winter landscape painting.

Yet, it’s certainly not a well-known subgenre. If I think back to my Art History courses in college, there were very few examples of winter scenes. If you could somehow list the 1,000 most popular paintings in the Western public’s imagination, probably no more than 10 would feature any snow or ice, and pretty much all of those 10 paintings would be by either Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Caspar David Friedrich, or Claude Monet. That’s what we think of when we think of winter landscapes—and to be sure, those guys are the greatest pioneers of the genre, but there’s much more to it. Despite the traditional aversion to landscape and nature-centered painting in the West prior to the Northern Renaissance, winter has been a big part of Western life. In much of Europe and North America, global warming notwithstanding, snow and ice have been pretty regular features of life for about a quarter of every year, and that was especially true during the so-called “Little Ice Age” which lasted from about 1300 to 1700.

Thus, to get at last to the point, after several weeks of digging I’m ready to start sharing my list with you. It is of course hardly a definitive or even exhaustive list—I’m quite confident in fact that there are still hundreds more stunning winter masterpieces to be discovered, particularly in non-Western and more contemporary art traditions, but I just can’t stand to stare at screens anymore right now. That said, because the list is so long—having, as I said, ballooned to over 1000—I’ve decided to break it up into these four batches:

  • 1.) 1400-1870: This batch goes from the late Medieval period through the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical, Romantic, and Realist periods in Western art history to the early days of Impressionism, which began in the mid-1860s. It also includes landscapes from the golden era of Japanese printmaking.
  • 2.) 1870-1900: This batch encompasses most of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist periods—in which there was A LOT of landscape painting being done—as well as the tail-end of the (official) Realist period.
  • 3.) 1900-1930: This batch includes a bunch of works from the Expressionist movement, as well as occasional works from the Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Fauvist, Cubist, and Surrealist movements. It also includes a lot of paintings from North American iterations of Impressionism (e.g., Group of Seven painters) and Regionalism/Realism.
  • 4.) 1930-2020: This last batch is a mix of all kinds of things, mostly from North America, though it largely avoids the abstract and pop-art styles dominant in Western art in the post-WWII era—mainly because there aren’t a lot of obvious “winter landscapes” by abstract artists. Most of these paintings range in style from Regionalism/Realism to modern variations of Impressionism and Expressionism. It’s a very mixed bag.

Ultimately, while winter landscape painting may not be the most exciting genre of art history, I have found that it is a fascinating and illuminating lens through which to view the development of Western art. I hope you too garner some insights from these lists, and find a few works that you too enjoy. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments. Here, therefore, is the first batch, with paintings spanning ~1400-1870:

1.) Anonymous artist – Snow and Ice, from Tacuinum Sanitatis (1390-1400)

2.) Anonymous artist – January fresco at the Castello del Buonconsiglio, Trento (1405-10)

3.) Limbourg Brothers – February, from Tres Riches Heures du duc de Berry (1412-1416)

4.) Anonymous artist – Snowball Fight (in Walters Art Museum, Flemish origin) (1510)

5.) Simon Bening January 1, Hennessy Book of Hours (1530-40)

6.) Anonymous artist – January, from The Golf Book (1540s)

7.) Pieter Bruegel the Elder – Adoration of the Magi in a Winter Landscape (1563)

8.) Pieter Bruegel the Elder – Hunters in the Snow (1565)

9.) Pieter Bruegel the Elder – Winter Landscape with Skaters and Bird Trap (1565)

10.) Pieter Brueghel the Elder – The Massacre of the Innocents (1565)

11.) Pieter Bruegel the Elder – The Numbering at Bethlehem (The Census at Bethlehem) (1566)

12.) Lucas van Valckenborch – Winter Landscape with Snowfall near Antwerp (1575)

13.) Lucas van Valckenborch – Winter Landscape (January or February) (1586)

14.) Lucas van Valckenborch – View of Antwerp with the Frozen Scheldt (1593)

15.) Karel van Mander I – Landscape with Snow and the Crucifixion (1599)

16.) Sebastien Vrancx – The Four Seasons: Winter (1600s?)

17.) Hendrick Avercamp – Winter Landscape (1605-10)

18.) Hendrick Avercamp – Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters (1608)

19.) Adam van Breen – Skating on the Frozen Amstel River (1611)

20.) Adam van Breen – Winter Landscape with Skaters (1615)

21.) Adriaen van de Venne Winter Landscape with Skaters (1615)

22.) Hendrick Averkamp – Winter Scene on a Canal (1615)

23.) Peter Paul Rubens – Winter: The Interior of a Barn (1618-19)

24.) Pieter Breughel the Younger – Return from the Inn (1620)

25.) Pieter Brueghel the Younger – Мassacre of the innocents (1620s?)

26.) Pieter Brueghel the Younger – A Winter Landscape with Peasants Skating and Playing Kolf on a Frozen River, a Town Beyond (1621)

27.) Hendrick Avercamp – Kolfspelers op het ijs (1625)

28.) Jan Wildens – January, Skating on the Frozen River (1630)

29.) Lucas van Uden – Winter Landscape with Snowy Water Mill and Figures (1630s?)

30.) Philips Wouwerman – A Winter Landscape (1639-68)

31.) Philips Wouwerman – Winter Landscape with Wooden Bridge (1639-68)

32.) David Teniers the Younger – A Winter Scene with a Man Killing a Pig (1650)

33.) Jan Abrahamsz Beerstraten – The Castle of Muiden in Winter (1658)

34.) Aert van der Neer – Sports on a Frozen River (1660)

35.) Jacob van Ruisdael – Winter Landscape with a View of the Amstel River and Amsterdam (1660s)

36.) Jacob van Ruisdael – Winter Landscape near Haarlem (1670s)

37.) Abraham Hondius – Arctic Adventure (1677)

38.) Abraham Hondius – The Frozen Thames (1677)

39.) Jan Griffier – Winter Scene with Skaters (1680s/90s?)

40.) Thomas WykeFrost Fair on the River Thames near the Temple Stairs (1683-4)

41.) Jan Griffier Dutch Snow Scene with Skaters (1695)

42.) Anonymous artist – The Great Frost of 1709 (?), from the Castello Sforzesco, Milan (1710s?)

43.) William Hogarth – The Four Times of Day: Morning (1736)

44.) Jan Griffier II The Thames During the Great Frost of 1739 (1739?)

45.) Francesco Foschi – Winter Landscape with a Peasant Family (1750-80)

46.) Pietro Fabris Mount Vesuvius in Winter, Covered with Snow (1754-76)

47.) Francois Boucher – Four Seasons: Winter (1755)

48.) Ito Jakuchu – Rooster in the Snow (1750s/60s?)

49.) Ito Jakuchu – Mandarin Ducks in the Snow (1759)

50.) Caspar Wolf – The Lower Grindelwald Glacier with Lütschine and the Mettenberg (1774-5)

51.) George Morland Winter Landscape with Figures (1785)

52.) Francisco de Goya – The Snowstorm or Winter (1786)

53.) Hendrik Meyer A Winter Scene (1787)

54.) George Morland – Winter Landscape (1790s?)

55.) George Morland – Breaking the Ice (1792)

56.) Henry Raeburn – Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch (1795)

57.) J. M. W. Turner – Passage of Mount Cenis (1800s?)

58.) Caspar David Friedrich – Cairn in Snow (1807)

59.) Caspar David Friedrich – Winter Landscape (1811)

60.) Caspar David Friedrich – Winter Landscape with Church (1811)

61.) J. M. W. Turner – Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps (1812)

62.) Burkitt & Hudson – View of the Thames off Three Cranes Wharf (1814)

63.) Francis Guy Winter Scene in Brooklyn (1817-20)

64.) Louisa Ann Coleman Winter Scene in Brooklyn (after Francis Guy) (1817)

65.) Caspar David Friedrich – Monastery Graveyard in the Snow (1819)

66.) Katsushika Hokusai – Akabane (1820s?)

67.) Katsushika Hokusai – Cranes on Branch of Snow-covered Pine (1820s)

68.) Kitagawa Fujimaro – Outing in the Snow Storm (1820s/30s?)

69.) Katsushika Hokusai – Fisherman Carrying His Net in the Snow (1821)

70.) Caspar David Friedrich – The Sea of Ice (1824)

71.) Johan Christian Dahl – Megalith Grave in Winter (1824-5)

72.) Thomas Cole – A Snow Squall (1825)

73.) George Hunt A Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year” and “The Same to You Sir & Many of E’m” (1827)

74.) Johan Christian Dahl – Winter at the Sognefjord (1827)

75.) William Heath Dutch Steamers on the Frozen Zuyder Zee (1829)

76.) Katsushika Hokusai – Morning after the Snow at Koishikawa in Edo (1830-2)

77.) Thomas BirchPhiladelphia Winter Landscape (1830-45)

78.) Katsushika Hokusai – Hunters by a Fire in the Snow (?), from One Hundred Poems Explained by the Nurse (1830s)

79.) Katsushika Hokusai – Travelers with a Heavy Snow in Echigo District (1830s?)

80.) John Constable A Winter Landscape with Figures on a Path (1832)

81.) Barend Cornelis Koekkoek Winter Landscape, Holland (1833)

82.) Katsushika Hokusai – Rider in the Snow (Traveler in the Snow) (1833)

83.) Utagawa Hiroshige – Evening Snow at Kanbara (1833-34)

84.) Barend Cornelis Koekkoek – Winter Landscape (1835-8)

85.) Jørgen Roed Street in Roskilde. In the Background the Cathedral (1836)

86.) J. M. W. Turner – Valley of Aosta Snowstorm, Avalanche, and Thunderstorm (1836-7)

87.) George Chambers – The Crew of HMS “Terror” Saving the Boats and Provisions on the Night of 15th March (1838)

88.) Johan Christian Dahl – Birch Tree at Slinde in Winter (1838)

89.) Thomas Fearnley – The Glacier at Grindelwald (1838)

90.) Utagawa Hiroshige – Fujikawa, no. 38 from Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido (1838–1840)

91.) Barend Cornelis Koekkoek – Winter Landscape (1839)

92.) François-Auguste Biard – Fighting Polar Bears (1839)

93.) William H. Smyth – Perilous Position of HMS Terror, Captain Back, in the Arctic Regions in the Summer of 1837 (1840s)

94.) Andreas Schelfhout – Winter Landscape with Skaters on the Ice (1840s?)

95.) François-Auguste Biard – Magdalena Bay (1841)

96.) François-Auguste Biard – View of the Arctic Ocean, Walrus Fishing by Greenlanders (1841)

97.) Barend Cornelis Koekkoek – Winterlandschap met Figuren te Bedburg (1842)

98.) J. M. W. Turner – Snow Storm: Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth (1842)

99.) Remigius van Haanen – Landscape with Frozen Canal (1842)

100.) Barend Cornelis Koekkoek – Winter Landscape (1843)

101.) Utagawa Hiroshige – Snow Scene at the Shrine of Benzaiten (1843)

102.) Utagawa Hiroshige – Evening Snow at Asakusa (1843-7)

103.) Andreas Schelfhout – Winter Landscape with Horses on the Ice (1844)

104.) Théodore Rousseau – The Forest in Winter at Sunset (1846-47)

105.) Regis Francois Gignoux Niagara, The Table Rock in Winter (1847)

106.) Andreas Schelfhout – Winter Landscape with ‘Koek en Zopie’ at Night (1849)

107.) Katsushika Hokusai – Tiger in the Snow (1849)

108.) Frederk Marinus Kruseman Winter Landscape with Ice Amusements (1850)

109.) Herman Kauffmann – Coach in the Snowstorm (1850s?)

110.) Emanuel Leutze – Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851)

111.) Johan Mengels Culverhouse View in Holland (1852)

112.) Vilhelm Kyhn – Winter Night in a Forest (1853)

113.) Barend Cornelis Koekkoek – Winter Landscape with Wood Gatherers (1854)

114.) Barend Cornelis Koekkoek – Winter Landscape with Wood Gatherers and Skaters (1854)

115.) Barend Cornelis Koekkoek A Winter Landscape with Figures Conversing on a Snowy Path (1856)

116.) Utagawa Hiroshige – Atagoshita and Yabu Lane (1857)

117.) Utagawa Hiroshige – The Drum Bridge and Yuhi Hill at Meguro (1857)

118.) Jean-Léon Gérôme The Duel After the Masquerade (1857-9)

119.) George Henry Durrie – Winter Scene in New Haven, Connecticut (1858)

120.) Herman Kauffmann – Loading Wood in the Snow (1858)

121.) Gustave Courbet The Diligence in the Snow (1860)

122.) Regis Francois Gignoux Winter Landscape with Skaters (1860)

123.) Richard Brydges Beechey – HMS Erebus Passing Through the Chain of Bergs, 1842 (1860)

124.) Albert Bierstadt Snow in the Rockies (1860s/70s?)

125.) August Friedrich Schenck – Sheep in a Winter Storm (1860s/70s?)

126.) Willem Koekkoek – A Winter’s Day in Alkmaar (1860s/70s?)

127.) Frederic Edwin Church – The Icebergs (1861)

128.) Heinrich Höfer Snow-Coated Upper Bavarian Village with Festival and Music Chapel Outdoor (1861)

129.) William C. Wall – Winter Scene (1861)

130.) Edmund Koken – View of a Church-Yard Entrance in Winter (1862)

131.) Louis-Rémy Mignot Sunset, Winter (1862)

132.) Jozef Israëls Winter, in Life as Well (1863)

133.) Edwin Landseer – Man Proposes, God Disposes (1864)

134.) Auguste Serrure – A Winter Outing (1865)

135.) Claude Monet – Cart on the Snow Covered Road at Honfleur (1865)

136.) Frederic Edwin Church – Aurora Borealis (1865)

137.) Gustave Courbet – Winter Landscape (1866)

138.) William Bradford – Sealers Crushed by Icebergs (1866)

139.) Claude Monet – Road by Saint-Siméon Farm in Winter (1867)

140.) Claude Monet – The Road in front of Saint-Simeon Farm in Winter (1867)

141.) George Henry Boughton – Pilgrims Going to Church (1867)

142.) Gustave Courbet – Deer in a Snowy Landscape (1867)

143.) Heinrich Höfer Winter Landscape with Figures on a Frozen River (1867)

144.) Joséphine Bowes Snow Scene in the South of France (1867)

145.) Ludvig Munthe – Slädfärd (Sleigh Ride) (1867)

146.) Ludvig Munthe – Winter Landscape (A Fox Hunting in the Forest) (1868)

147.) Pierre-Auguste Renoir – Skaters in the Bois de Boulogne (1868)

148.) Vasily Perov – Last Tavern at City Gates (1868)

149.) Claude Monet – The Magpie (1868-9)

150.) Camille Pissarro – Road to Versailles at Louveciennes (The Snow Effect) (1869)

151.) Henry Farrer – Winter Scene in Moonlight (1869)

152.) Alexey Savrasov – Winter Landscape, Rime (1870)

153.) Camille Pissarro – Fox Hill, Upper Norwood (1870)

154.) Camille Pissarro – Route de Versailles, Louveciennes, Winter Sun and Snow (1870)

155.) Claude Monet Path Through the Forest, Snow Effect (1870)

156.) Edouard Manet – Effect of Snow at Petit-Montrouge (1870)

157.) Ivan Aivazovsky – Ice Mountains in Antarctica, Icebergs (1870)

158.) Ludvig Munthe – Skoginterior (Forest Interior) (1870)

159.) Rosa Bonheur – Wild Boars in the Snow (1870)

160.) August Schliecker A Small Town in the Rhine (1870s?)

161.) Berndt Lindholm – Ice Channel on the Coast (1870s?)

162.) Carl Hilgers Winterliches Wasserschloss (1870s/80s?)

163.) Louis Apol – A Horse Drawn Cart on a Snow-Covered Forest Track (1870s/80s?)

164.) Louis Apol – A Late Afternoon in Winter (1870s/80s?)

165.) Louis Apol – Figures by a Windmill in a Snow-Covered Landscape (1870s/80s?)

166.) Louis Apol – Winter Landscape (1870s/80s?)

167.) Ludvig Munthe – Mondnacht im Winterwald (Moon Night in Winter Forest) (1870s/80s?)

168.) Ludvig Munthe – On the Path (1870s/80s?)

169.) Ludvig Munthe – The Wood Gatherers (1870s/80s?)

170.) Ludvig Munthe – Winterlandschaft bei Vollmond (Winter Landscape with Full Moon) (1870s/80s?)

171.) Ludvig Munthe – Woodworkers at Dusk (1870s/80s?)

172.) Sophus Jacobsen – Snowy Churchyard (1870s/80s?)

173.) Walery Brochocki – Winter Landscape with Horses (1870s/80s?)

Hope you enjoyed the first batch! Stay tuned for batches 2-4. Let me know if I missed anything.

[Update: Batches 2-4 are complete and can be viewed here, here, and here. Cheers!]

3 thoughts on “The Surprisingly Interesting History of Winter Landscape Painting, Pt. 1/4: 1400-1870

  1. Caroline Macafee

    Thank you so much for your labour of love! You ask us to point out anybody you may have missed. Unless I’ve overlooked it, I don’t think you have anything by Barend Cornelis Koekkoek, who did some very fine winter scenes.


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