Charles-François Daubigny
Snow

Snow
Charles-François Daubigny (1817-1878)
Snow
1873
Oil on canvas
H. 90; W. 120 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

La Neige [Snow]


This painting of the plain of Auvers-sur-Oise haunted by starving crows during the previous winter drew scathing criticism at the Salon of 1873. The journalist Max de Montifaut wrote that "Mr Daubigny's Snow is a piece of plaster spread with a palette knife", while his colleague Duvergier de Hauranne exclaimed that the canvas had been "executed with the flat of a sword" and that the trees had been painted "with a broom of birch twigs".

As he benefited from the special status of previous medal-winners, Daubigny did not have to submit his painting to the jury and was thus free to exhibit this work which was a far cry from the academic tradition of landscapes painted in the studio. The bleakness of the subject, the play of whites and blacks laid on in thick, clearly visible strokes, owed a great deal to Courbet's snow-covered landscapes. But the influence of his relationship with Monet in 1870 can also be felt as Monet encouraged his elder to enter into a more direct contact with nature and a give a more spontaneous rendering of his impressions. At the same time, only a few kilometres away at Pontoise, Pissarro and Cézanne were also painting snow-covered landscapes, but, by rejecting their works for official exhibition, the jury of the Salon prompted them to create a separate exhibition which became the first Impressionist exhibition of 1874.


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