Winter postcards in the collections of the Museu Nacional

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Seasonal changes have always been a source of inspiration for artists. The landscape and the climate have a decisive influence on our mood and our perception of the reality around us. With the onset of winter, our environment is changing, giving way to postcards of snow and icy squares and streets. Fog, bare trees, and a broad scale of greys are the protagonists of the coming months, but so is the winter sun and its rays of light and warmth that we chase through the corners of towns and cities. Parallel to this, the interiors become spaces for gathering and warmth, with the warmth of stoves and fireplaces, so characteristic of the Christmas period.

And to welcome the astronomical winter and these dates, we suggest an online tour of works from the museum’s collection that these winter prints capture.


Allegories

Melancholy images, mythical birds or mantles, hats and gloves make up the collective winter imagination. In this way, artists create iconic images through these repertoires.

Allegory of winter, Claudi Lorenzale, 1947, Oil on canvas, 106 x 82.5 cm, MNAC 044396-000 / Decorative composition for a mantlepiece, Lluís Masriera, 1911, Oil on cut wood, 54.5 x 123 cm, MNAC 038034-000


Winter 1882, Francesc Masriera, 1882, Oil on canvas, 79 x 62 cm, MNAC 037827-000 / Winter, Francisco Javier Escudero, 1897, Cast bronze, 79 x 40.5 x 35.5 cm, MNAC 010917-000


The First Cold, Miquel Blay, 1892, Carved in marble, 136.7 x 98 x 71.8 cm, MNAC 010002-000 / The public stove, Ramon Casas, 1892, Pen and graphite ink on coloured paper, 10.5 x 11.3 cm, MNAC 026912-D


Landscapes

Mountains, fields and paved streets turn white, giving way to the most typical snapshots of this season. The snow and, consequently, the cold expose the reality around us, prolifically captured by graphic artists, painters and photographers.

Rambla del Centro nevada, Antoni Esplugas Puig, 1890, Albumin on paper, 16.3 x 20.2 cm, MNAC 219193-001 / Port in the snow, Antoni Esplugas Puig, 1890, Albumin on paper, 16.2 x 22 cm, MNAC 219193-002 / Snowy landscape, Isidre Nonell, 1896-1897, Ink on paper, 44.3 x 29.5 cm, MNAC 107763-D / Snowy rural village (scenography), Josep Planella, 1886, Water on paper, 21.5 x 30.5 cm, MNAC 002870-D / Snowy street of Madrid, Josep Lluís Pellicer, 1870, Graphite pencil, pen ink and gouache on paper, 13.4 x 9.7 cm, MNAC 002215-D / A Winter Day in the Jardin du Luxembourg, Marià Pidelaserra, 1900, Oil on canvas, 46 x 61.5 cm, MNAC 004093-000


Winter, Antoni Viladomat, 1730-1755, Oil on canvas, 113.5 x 179.5 cm, MNAC 024267-000


Lippincott’s December, William L. Carqueville, 1894, Coloured lithograph on paper, 48.3 x 31.9 cm, MNAC 000539-C / Scribners for Xmas, Louis John Rhead, 1895, Coloured lithograph on paper, 48.5 x 35.6 cm, MNAC 000348-C


Clouds, fog and storms

But not everything is snow. Adverse weather events such as fog and storms are also part of this winter imagination, pushing artists to incorporate the full range of greys that evoke feelings of resentment and melancholy.

Plein air, Ramon Casas, 1890-1891, Oil on canvas, 50.5 x 65.5 cm, MNAC 010901-000


Bird’s-eye view of hospital courtyard (Winter: grey day), Marià Pidelaserra, 1900, Oil on canvas, 75 x 88.5 cm, MNAC 004090-000 / Bird’s-eye view of a piece of Paris (Winter: foggy day), Marià Pidelaserra, 1900, Oil on canvas, 54.5 x 65 cm, MNAC 004091-000


Study of clouds, Apel·les Mestres, 1874, Oil on canvas, 16 x 22.5 cm, MNAC 045764-000


Fog in Ketama, Claudi Carbonell, s.d., Silver gelatine on paper, 22.2 x 28.2 cm, MNAC 209471-000 / Fog, Joan Porqueras, 1928, Silver gelatine on baryta paper, 22 x 27 cm, MNAC 208635-000


Winter sun

The warmth of the winter sun usually causes a feeling of calm and serenity that makes us forget about the cold temperatures for a few hours. Many artists have caught the moment in which the darkest season of the year becomes a landscape of warm and comforting tones.

A Paris street (Winter sunshine), Marià Pidelaserra, 1900, Oil on canvas, 66 x 42 cm, MNAC 004087-000 / Winter poetry, Joaquim Vayreda, 1894, Oil on canvas, 78 x 138 cm, MNAC 010570-000 / Afternoon sun, Joaquim Pla Janini, 1943, Bromole transported on paper, 40 x 51 cm, MNAC 201096-000


The Beggars Cathedral, Joaquim Mir, 1898, Oil on canvas, 209.3 x 253 cm, MNAC 212858-000


Recreation on ice

Skiing, skating or sledging are sports that depend on the weather, so they are very popular with those who practise them. They contribute to the fact that the cold does not become a paralysing force, but an engine to become warm. These are usually scenes that convey leisure and fun as we can see in various examples of advertising boards or posters in the early twentieth century.

Winter, Jean-Baptiste Pater, 1725, Oil on canvas, 64.8 x 53.8 cm, MNAC 065008-000


Woman skiing, Miquel Utrillo, 1890, Watercolour and ink brushed on paper, 30.7 x 21.7 cm, MNAC 045157-D / Winter Sports, Pere Pruna, 1930, Oil on canvas, 74 x 61 cm, MNAC 004339-000


International. December, William L. Carqueville, 1897, Coloured lithograph on paper, 48.5 x 31.7 cm, MNAC 004348-C / Chamonix. Mont-Blanc, Francisco Tamagno, 1900-1910, Coloured lithograph on paper, 99.2 x 61.2 cm, MNAC 000416-C / March Century. Klondike, George Alfred Williams, 1895-1897, Coloured lithograph on paper, 48.2 x 35.8 cm, MNAC 000492-C / Cottolene, Anonymous, 1890-1910, Photogravure on paper, 41.3 x 28.5 cm, MNAC 004326-C / Golf Calendar. February, Edward Penfield, 1899, Photogravure on paper, 41 x 28.6 cm, MNAC 004336-C / Harper’s. January, Edward Penfield, 1899, Coloured lithograph on paper, 29.2 x 49.3 cm, MNAC 004417-C


Interiors

The works that represent the intimacy of the houses in winter are more contained, where we often find characters in front of a fireplace, a stove or a fire, quiet, focused on collecting the maximum heat. However, it is a time of year when warmth is also created with company and celebrations, and these are also snapshots of winter.

Beside the fire, Manuel Cusí, 1896, Oil on canvas, 126 x 80.5 cm, MNAC 010791-000 / Meditation, Ramon Calsina, 1937, Oil on canvas, 82 x 65 cm, MNAC 038155-000


Dining room, Pere Torné Esquius, 1913, Oil on cardboard, 40 x 48 cm, MNAC 024668-000 / Kitchen interior, Francesc Gimeno, 1915-1918, Oil on canvas glued on cardboard, 39 x 31 cm, MNAC 113136-000 / Fireplace of the Pinós hostal, Josep Lluís Pellicer, 1864, Pencil on paper, 29 x 23.5 cm, MNAC 026560-D


Dinner party, Ramon Casas, 1898, Conté pencil and watercolour ink on paper, 32.2 x 44.8 cm, MNAC 001047-D


Related links

Winter blog of the British Museum: https://blog.britishmuseum.org/winter-wonderlands/

Winter blog of the Metropolitan Museum of Art: https://www.metmuseum.org/blogs/in-circulation/2015/winter-wonderland

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