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Winter forest, Ivan Shishkin - Description of the Painting

Winter forest - Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin. Canvas, oil. 126 x 204 cm

The pictures by Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin fascinate people with the depth of perspective and the scrupulous elaboration of details. Contemporaries used to refer to him as "King of the forest" and "Forest hero-artist". In his life, the master managed to visit the most picturesque places of Russia, traveling and working a lot, but wherever he was, he invariably chanted the beauty of his native nature with great love.

Ivan Ivanovich always painted from nature, spending several hours at the easel every day, and his sunny summer landscapes are known and loved all over the world. Unfortunately, a lung disease did not allow Shishkin to work freely in the winter, and he turned to snowy landscapes only when he was at a respectable age.

It is surprising, but the artist painted a sleeping winter forest, while looking out his window and turning to his inner vision to catch the subtlest light transitions, colors, nuances and managed to embody them all in paintings featuring amazing realism.

The "Winter Forest" I one of those paintings. At the very first glance at the canvas, one can feel complete presence, with frosty freshness and ringing silence of the winter forest, that are broken only by the creak of the trees and short calls of birds. The frost-bound trees seem to part and let the viewers deeper into the forest. The monochrome of the landscape together with the strict graphics of the branches supplements the weak sunlight rays, quite barely visible between the tree trunks. In this snowy silence, the reflections show a timid hope for an early spring.

The meticulously depicted tree trunks amaze with nearly photographic accuracy. It looks like one just needs to stretch a hand to feel the roughness of the bark and the burning sharpness of the snow that frames the thin branches bent under its weight. Every single pile of grass protruding from under the snow, every withered leaf, miraculously left on the branches, now diluting the overall restrained range of the painting with a rich terracotta hue, is shown with greatest love and attention.

The paintings by Shishkin feature the real, lively, changeable forest, and this liveliness, together with the detailed elaboration and impeccable composition, making his works easily recognizable and always attract people’s attention.
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