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
2. Adoration of the Kings in the Snow by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1567
3. Winter Landscape with a Windmill by Hendrick Avercamp, c.1615
4. The Castle of Muiden in Winter by Jan Abrahamsz Beerstraten, 1658
5. Dutch Snow Scene with Skaters by Jan Griffier, c.1695
6. Rome with snow by Giovanni Paolo Panini, 1730
7. The Four Seasons: Winter by François Boucher, 1755
8. Winter by Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes, 1786-1787
9. Snowy Landscape by Francesco Foschi, c.1770
10. The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch, attributed to Henry Raeburn, 1790s
11. Breaking the Ice by George Morland, 1792
12. Winter Landscape by Caspar David Friedrich, 1811
13. 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
15. Playing in the Snow by Thompkins H Matteson, 1856
16. Winter Scene by Louis Remy Mignot, 1856
17. La Diligence in the Snow by Gustave Courbet, 1860
18. Snow Scene in the South of France by Joséphine Bowes, c.1867
19. Deer in a Snowy Landscape by Gustave Courbet, 1867
20. The Magpie by Claude Monet, 1869
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