Art Sunday: Vincent van Gogh – Landscape with Snow

Disillusioned with Parisian artists’ café society and the oppressive gloom of the urban winter, Vincent van Gogh left Paris in mid-February 1888 to find rejuvenation in the healthy atmosphere of sun-drenched Arles. When he stepped off the train in the southern city, however, he was confronted by a snowy landscape, the result of a record cold spell. Undaunted, Van Gogh painted Landscape with Snow around February 24, when the snow had mostly melted, just prior to a new inundation.¹ The artist implies the patchy coverage of the snow through daubs of brown paint and by leaving areas of the canvas to the brilliant illumination and feverish colors of the summer harvest paintings Van Gogh made later in the year. Here, instead, he presents the looming, purplish light of an impending snowstorm.