Anton Mauve (Dutch, Zaandam 1838 - 1888 Arnhem)
Snow Storm, ca. 1880
Signed bottom right: A Mauve
Oil on canvas
8 13/16 x 13 3/16 in. (22.4 x 33.5 cm)
Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Robert Morse Woodbury, 1966
Anton Mauve was a leading figure among Hague School painters during the latter part of the nineteenth century. Landscapes by these artists display a particular sensitivity for recording light and subtle atmospheric effects. Mauve's simple yet evocative winter scene may have been painted directly from nature.
This modest winter scene, depicting a few huddled figures forging along a snowy path lined with insubstantial trees, typefies the reticent and meditative character of paintings by Anton Mauve. Mauve's mature works, such as Snow Storm, are delicate and lyrical; his subtle, almost monochromatic palette is suffused with a silvery light. Particularly between 1870 and 1885, Mauve and his colleagues in The Hague strove to realistically capture the muted, watery effects of the Dutch climate, and the endless interactions between land and sky. A contemporary critic described the atmospheric, tonal efforts of Hague School artists:1
The artists try, by preference, to render mood; and they give precedence to tone above color. Hence their almost exclusive rights over the depiction of what is known as "dirty weather."...They have revealed the poetry of grey in a hitherto unprecedented manner. In that grey atmosphere they find the ideal gradations of tone that they are looking for and we must recognize with admiration that they succeed in rendering what people had no idea of before with a fine sensitivity.
The Hague School artists attempted to recreate the natural effects of light and atmosphere by depicting not only isolated weather conditions, but also more subtle seasonal variations. Mauve particularly excelled in rendering the profound silence and desolation of winter, in both oil and watercolor media. In a letter of 1885, Mauve's wife described routine winter outings with the artist: "With unflinching courage we have walked through the snow every day, armed with the paintbox, which seldom remained unused."2 Mauve apparently made small oil sketches from nature on canvases tacked to the inside of his paintbox lid; the completed studies were later applied to wood panels or mounted on stretchers.3 It seems plausible that Snow Storm is one such plein air study, considering its modest size, swift brushwork, and the fact that the painted design extends beyond the edges of the original stretcher (see Technical Data).
Snow Storm probably dates to the latter part of Mauve's period in The Hague; the overall grey tonality and strong one-point perspective suggest a date of around 1880, shortly before the artist moved to Laren. Comparable winter scenes by the artist include the watercolors Old Couple in a New Park, Sunday Morning(about 1874), and Old Coach in the Snow (Philadelphia Museum of Art).4 The spare composition and detached mood of A Dutch Road(ca. 1880; Toledo Museum of Art), which depicts a solitary horseman seen from the rear, similarly focuses attention on the palpable effects of weather and the artist's virtuoso brushwork.5
M. E. Wieseman
The son of a Mennonite preacher, Anton Mauve was born in Zaandam on 18 September 1838. He spent his youth in Haarlem, where he was a pupil of the animal painter Pieter Frederik van Os (1808-1892) from about 1854 until 1857; he also studied with the painters Wouterus Verschuur and Paul Gabriël. Mauve settled in Amsterdam in 1865, and moved to The Hague in 1871. In 1874 he married Ariëtte Sophia Jeannette Carbentus, a cousin of Vincent van Gogh; van Gogh (1853-1890) studied briefly with Mauve in 1881-82. Together with Willem Maris (1844-1910) and Hendrik Mesdag (1831-1915), Mauve founded the Hollandsche Teeken-Maatschappij (Dutch Drawing Society) in 1876. These three artists--along with Jozef Israëls, Jacob Maris, and Johannes Bosboom (1817-1891)--were the leading figures in the Hague School of painting. Works by these artists, produced between about 1860 and 1900, are characterized by a romantic nostalgia for seventeenth-century Dutch painting, and a particular sensitivity for recording light and atmospheric effects. Mauve settled in Laren in 1885, and died on 5 February 1888 while on a visit to Arnhem.
Mauve was a brilliant technician in both oil and watercolor. Primarily a landscape painter, he is best known for his scenes of horses, cows, and sheep in the watery, flat Dutch landscape. Especially during his late Laren period, Mauve's figure paintings are profoundly influenced by the work of Jean François Millet.6
Engel, E. P. Anton Mauve (1838-1888): Bronnenverkenning en analyse van zijn Oeuvre. Utrecht, 1967.
de Gruyter, Willem Josiah. De Haagse School. Vol. 2. Rotterdam, 1969, pp. 61-70.
de Leeuw, Ronald, John Sillevis, and Charles Dumas, eds. The Hague School: Dutch Masters of the 19th Century. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1983, pp. 233-55.
With Stevens Art Gallery, Montreal
Collection William Gibbs (until 1945)
Collection Robert Morse Woodbury (from 1945)
Given to the museum in 1966
Sutton, Peter C. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1986, p. 213.
In 1974, the canvas was removed from its wooden stretcher and lined onto an aluminum honeycomb panel with wax-resin adhesive. This wooden stretcher may not have been original to the painting, as the painted design extended beyond the edges of the stretcher; the canvas may have been tacked to a wood support and painted en plein air,and only later affixed to a stretcher (see Main Text). There is no cusping associated with visible tacking holes. The wood stretcher bore a label inscribed (in ink) "T.G. 2848 / Going to Church / A. Mauve." Paint is applied in vigorous strokes, with varying levels of impasto. The figures were painted first, and the snowy background then filled in around them. The painting is in good condition, with some inpainting near the upper left corner, and another area at center right. A mastic varnish was removed when the painting was cleaned in 1974; this was not the original varnish, however, as it was found to cover areas of overpaint.
1. Jan van Santen Kolf, "Een blik in de Hollandsche schilderschool onze dagen," De Banier 1 (1875); cited (in translation) by John Sillevis, "The Heyday of the Hague School (1870-1885)," in Ronald de Leeuw, John Sillevis, and Charles Dumas, eds., The Hague School: Dutch Masters of the 19th Century(exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1983), p. 83..
2. Cited (in translation) in Ronald de Leeuw, John Sillevis, and Charles Dumas, eds., The Hague School: Dutch Masters of the 19th Century (exh. cat.,Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1983), p. 240.
3. E. P. Engel, Anton Mauve (1838-1888): Bronnenverkenning en analyse van zijn Oeuvre (Utrecht, 1967), p. 59.
4. Old Couple in a New Park, watercolor, dimensions and location unknown (reproduced in Willem Josiah de Gruyter, De Haagse School, vol. 2 [Rotterdam, 1969], fig. 79); Sunday Morning, ca. 1874, watercolor, 23 x 35 cm, private collection (reproduced in E. P. Engel, Anton Mauve (1838-1888): Bronnenverkenning en analyse van zijn Oeuvre[Utrecht, 1967], no. 67); and Old Coach in the Snow, watercolor, 26.4 x 32.3 cm, Philadelphia Museum of Art, George W. Elkins Collection.
5. Oil on canvas, 50.5 x 36.8 cm, Toledo Museum of Art, Gift of Arthur J. Secor, inv. 22.22.
6. E. P. Engel, Anton Mauve (1838-1888): Bronnenverkenning en analyse van zijn Oeuvre (Utrecht, 1967), pp. 69-70.