20 Amazing Winter Paintings from the Little Ice Age

The Rhone Glacier, Switzerland, in 1870
The Rhone Glacier, Switzerland, in 1870

The Little Ice Age was a period from about 1300 to 1870 when Europe and North America experienced much colder winters than we do today. Paintings from the Little Ice Age show us what it was like.

There were two phases, the first of which ran from about 1300 to 1500. Then came a slightly warmer period in the 1500s, followed by the second phase when climate deteriorated substantially.

Temperatures plummeted, crops failed, heavy snowfalls and glaciation consumed small villages and farms. Most waterways and lakes in Europe froze over.

Temperatures wouldn’t reach pre-Little Ice Age levels until the 20th century.

To make matters worse, there was significant volcanic activity. In 1815, Mount Tambora in the Dutch East Indies erupted—one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions in recorded history.

So much volcanic ash was forced into the atmosphere that it partially blocked the sun’s warming rays, leading to the “Year Without a Summer” of 1816.

Snow fell in New York in June, Massachusetts had frosts in August, and ice still floated in the lakes and rivers of northwestern Pennsylvania during August.

But art flourished, and provides us with a visual record of weather conditions.

Here are 20 of the best winter paintings from the Little Ice Age.

1. The Hunters in the Snow by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1565

The Hunters in the Snow by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1565

2. Adoration of the Kings in the Snow by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1567

Adoration of the Kings in the Snow by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1567

3. Winter Landscape with a Windmill by Hendrick Avercamp, c.1615

Winter Landscape with a Windmill by Hendrick Avercamp, c.1610-1620

4. The Castle of Muiden in Winter by Jan Abrahamsz Beerstraten, 1658

The Castle of Muiden in Winter by Jan Abrahamsz Beerstraten, 1658

5. Dutch Snow Scene with Skaters by Jan Griffier, c.1695

Dutch Snow Scene with Skaters by Jan Griffier, c.1695

6. Rome with snow by Giovanni Paolo Panini, 1730

Rome with snow by Giovanni Paolo Panini, 1730

7. The Four Seasons: Winter by François Boucher, 1755

The Four Seasons: Winter by François Boucher, 1755

8. Winter by Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes, 1786-1787

Winter by Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes, 1786-1787

9. Snowy Landscape by Francesco Foschi, c.1770

Snowy Landscape by Francesco Foschi, c.1770

10. The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch, attributed to Henry Raeburn, 1790s

The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch, attributed to Henry Raeburn, 1790s

11. Breaking the Ice by George Morland, 1792

Breaking the Ice by George Morland, 1792

12. Winter Landscape by Caspar David Friedrich, 1811

Winter Landscape by Caspar David Friedrich, 1811

13.  Santa Trinità dei Monti in the Snow by Andre Giroux – c.1830 (Rome, Italy)

 Santa Trinità dei Monti in the Snow by Andre Giroux - c.1830 (Rome, Italy)

14. Winter Landscape with Ice Amusements by Frederk Marinus Kruseman, 1850

Winter Landscape with Ice Amusements by Frederk Marinus Kruseman, 1850

15. Playing in the Snow by Thompkins H Matteson, 1856

Playing in the Snow by Thompkins H Matteson, 1856

16. Winter Scene by Louis Remy Mignot, 1856

Winter Scene by Louis Remy Mignot, 1856

17. La Diligence in the Snow by Gustave Courbet, 1860

La Diligence in the Snow by Gustave Courbet, 1860

18. Snow Scene in the South of France by Joséphine Bowes, c.1867

Snow Scene in the South of France by Joséphine Bowes, c.1867

19. Deer in a Snowy Landscape by Gustave Courbet, 1867

Deer in a Snowy Landscape by Gustave Courbet, 1867

20. The Magpie by Claude Monet, 1869

The Magpie by Claude Monet, 1869
Contains affiliate links

Popular Posts

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. I only recommend products or services that I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

David James

David James

I'm an Englishman in Boston. History is a joy—it binds us, it connects us, it guides us. I'm interested in making history more accessible and more fun. Join me on this fantastic voyage through time.