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    Winter in Fine Arts: The Colour of Snow

    The depictions of snow and ice in the masterpieces of artists such as Werner Berg, Pieter Bruegel or Egon Schiele are impressive to behold. The colours range from mystical grey and blue hues to turquoise pastels.

    Always in Demand: Winters from the Past

    Snow and ice in landscapes and their effect on people are among the great themes in the fine arts. The grey, wintry light, which is sometimes mixed with blue and turquoise tones, inspired great artists to veritable masterpieces.

    Brügel - Jäger im Schnee
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    Finding A Colour for Snow

    Winter in Pieter Bruegel's Paintings

    A visit to the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna shows that winter has always been a fascinating subject for painters. One of the most popular paintings there is “Hunters in the Snow“ by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The work is recognised as the first known European large-scale painting of a winter landscape. It captivates the viewer with its stunning contrasts: the dark clothes of the hunters in the foreground and the white, snowy landscape with mountain peaks in the background. Shimmering, greyish-green hues define the evening sky and the icy surfaces. 

    The detail of the painting is impressive - such as the figures on the ice: people ice skating, curling or playing snow-golf, which was very popular in Flanders. The painting is also widely regarded as a historic document of the “Little Ice Age,” as the winter of its creation, 1564/65, was said to have the lowest temperatures humans can remember.

    Egon Schiele - Häuser im Winter (Blick aus dem Atelier)
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    Snow on the Roofs of Vienna

    A View from Egon Schiele’s Studio

    The diffuse light of winter, which can make people and buildings seem monochrome, also fascinated the masters of expressionism. When Egon Schiele - at the age of 17 - moved into his first studio in Vienna’s Leopoldstadt near the Prater, one of his first motifs was “Häuser im Winter (Blick aus dem Atelier). (Houses in Winter (View from the studio)).“

    The painting shows one of the numerous courtyards that can still be found in Vienna when you stroll through its alleys with open eyes and take a peek behind the facades. The buildings with their playful bay windows, rounded steeples and garrets in Schiele’s paintings are covered with thick snow blankets as if they were part of the architecture. Schiele’s vision of an urban winter is part of the collection of the Wiener Belvedere.

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    •                         Leopold Museum Vienna - Egon Schiele
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    •                         Belvedere Palace in Vienna / Winter
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    Rutarhof Hoflicht
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    Snow-Impressions by Werner Berg

    Farm Life in Winter

    The German-Austrian expressionist Werner Berg was gifted with a wonderful ability to observe. The artist was born in 1904 in Wuppertal-Elberfeld, and in 1930 emigrated to Carinthia, where he purchased a remote mountain farm, the Rutarhof, close to the border with Slovenia.

    In his life as well as his art, Werner Berg sought “closeness to things.” His numerous winter depictions include expressive paintings and wood engravings showing nature blanketed by snow and ice - mostly in twilight, with long shadows cast by moonlight or artificial light sources. Paintings of farmhouses highlight the loneliness and remoteness of the region. When Berg shows people in this winter landscape, they are mostly walking, hunched against the cold. Some of these images show women attending church. Reduced to a minimum, the faces and headscarves of the farmer’s wives seem archaic. 

    Night and winter reconstitute the large frame of landscapes, events and the human condition.

    Thomasnacht
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    Werner Berg (1904-1981), deutsch-österreichischer Maler

    Artists at the Museum

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    • Brügel - Jäger im Schnee
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      Pieter Bruegel at the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna

    • Leopold Museum Vienna - Egon Schiele
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      Egon Schiele at the Leopoldmuseum Vienna

    • Rutarhof Hoflicht
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      Werner Berg at the Museum in Carinthia

    • Rutarhof Hoflicht
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      Werner Berg at the Museum in Carinthia

    Check out these Winter Culture Stories

    •                 Skier, Alfons Walde
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      Kitzbühel and the Painter of Snow

      This year, Kitzbühel celebrates its 750th birthday. The town renowned for winter sports and spectacular downhill runs is also associated with artist Alfons Walde, the Painter of Snow.

      Read more
    •                 Penguin Snow Globe
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      Mother Holle in a Snow Globe

      The snow globe, beloved throughout the world, was invented in Austria. We say hello to the family Perzy and their Snowglobemanufacture.

      The Viennese Snow Globe
    •                 Iced trees at the lakeside in Maurach
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      A Raucous Christmas: Winter Traditions in Austria

      From the Krampus to Blossoming “Barbara Branches” – in Austria, many mystical traditions are still celebrated between Christmas and the New Year.

      Rauhnacht Traditions in Austria
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      Hemingway and Fleming: Finding Inspiration in the Wintry Alps

      The wintry Alps as a source of inspiration for world-class literature: Find out what the famous authors Ernest Hemingway and Ian Fleming experienced in Austria’s Alpine regions.

      Finding Inspiration in the Alps
    •                 Winter landscape on the Schöckl in Styria
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      Adalbert Stifter and Peter Rosegger: Literature between Snow and Ice

      Adalbert Stifter and Peter Rosegger’s stories focus on people experiencing the beauty and the challenges of winter in the Alps.

      Snow-Literature
    •                 Leopold Mozart (father of W. A. Mozart) / Historical Museum of Vienna
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      Winter Themes in Classical Music: Music for Long Evenings

      Winter found its way into Classical Music when Austrian composers such as Leopold Mozart, Schubert and Strauss chose it as a theme of their compositions.

      Classical Winter Music
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