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Snow at Louveciennes,1872

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Artist Pissarro, Jacob Camille The analysis of shadow which had preoccupied the artist in England was an important feature among the innovations of Pissarro and his friends. In this connection, snow scenes held a particular attraction for them because they offered an excellent opportunity for the study of reflections and of surfaces barred from direct light. There could be no question that a shadow cast on snow was not , as academic tradition had it, of a bituminous character, but that instead of the original white, there appeared in the shaded regions colours postulated by the atmosphere as well as by the object that hid the sun. It thus became clear that surroundings exposed to the sun influence the coloration of the areas remaining in the shade.
As Renoir was to explain toward the end of his life; “White does not exist in nature … You have sky above the snow. The sky is blue. That blue must show up in the snow. In the morning there is green and yellow in the sky. These colours also must show up in the snow when your picture is painted in the morning. If it is done in the evening , red and yellow would have to appear in the snow. And the shadows … a tree, for example , has the same local colour on the side where the sun shines as on the side where the shadow is … The colour of the object is the same, only with a veil thrown over it . Sometimes that veil is thin, sometimes thick, but always it remains a veil … No shadow is black. It always has a colour . Nature knows only colours … White and black are not colours.”
Thus, shadows could obviously play a unifying role in a composition rather than brutally divide it into zines of light and darkness, and that is how Pissarro used them in the snow scene painted in Louveciennes, where bluish tints dominate the entire landscape. The bluish -green coloration of the uniform sky is mirrored thought the strongly established foreground, the firm middle ground , and the hazier distance. The winter sun, somewhere low of the horizon to the right , is suggested by diagonal shadows and a few scattered highlights. The dark accents of tree trunks and naked branches draw a web of sombre arabesques against the prevailing bluish tonality. Since the sun stands behind them, these trees are all in the shade . Yet they are by means black; their dull, brownish tints seem to benefit from reflections cast by the snow. Thus is re-created, with a reduced scale of colours, an intimate interplay between light and shadow, between solid forms and snow-covered soil, between sky and ground.




Institution Museum Folkwang, Essen
Medium Oil on canvas

46 x 55 cm














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