Artist: Ivan Shishkin
Date: 1890
Media: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 125.5 x 204 cm
Ownership: Russian Museum, St Petersburg
Property of the artist’s daughter, Lydia von Riedinger, St Petersburg (until 1907)
Style: Realism


In the late 1880s and early 1890s, towards the end of his career, Ivan Shishkin addressed a relatively rare subject in his oeuvre – the theme of nature freezing over in winter. In this particular work, the artist tackles the extremely complex task of conveying almost imperceptible reflections in a virtually monochrome painting.

Everything is frozen and immersed in shadows. A ray of sunshine lights up a glade in the depths of a forest, creating a gentle shade of pink and making the snow seem even bluer. The only hints of life are the mighty trunks of the enormous dark trees in the background and the bird sitting on a bough in the centre of the picture.

Ivan Shishkin made several versions of this painting, sketching many of the preliminary drawings directly in the forest. The artist employs expressive linear rhythms and silhouettes to construct an architectonic composition, creating a monumental collective image of sleeping nature and filling it with epic sound.

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