Art History – March 2021

March, Levitan(1895)

Until we can meet again properly, I continue to update members by email and phone of any upcoming TV programmes or online events.

In addition, we have been meeting on Zoom with group members choosing a painting to talk about, based on a theme.  This approach has encouraged us to discover some lesser known artists as well looking up the old favourites.  In February our subject was ‘Winter Scenes’ and we looked at paintings dating from the 1600’s to the present day.  The Dutch painter, Henrick Avercamp proved to be a popular choice with his scenes of skating on the frozen canal.  We discovered that he was unable to speak or hear and this could have heightened his powers of observation.  There were examples from the Impressionist painters, who used greys and blues to depict shadows in the snow which was particularly effective. The winter theme was also popular with the Expressionists and similarities were noted between ‘New Snow in the Avenue’ by Edvard Munch (1906)  and David Hockney’s ‘Winter Snow with Tunnel’ painted 100 years later in 2006.

The biggest surprise was Joan’s discovery of the Russian painter Issac Levitan (1860 – 1900) who advanced the genre of the ‘mood landscape’. Previously, the Russian countryside had been considered too uninteresting for painting, but for Levitan landscapes became the focus of his art. His works appeared on the covers of Russian language textbooks and school children learned of his love for his native land.

The theme for March is ‘Night Scenes’ and I look forward to another varied and interesting morning.

Angela Deane