The snowfall this spring may have brought planes and trains to a grinding halt, but member artists of the New English Art Club were less easily deterred. Many took inspiration from the flurries, as testified by this year's New English Annual Exhibition, where works documenting life during ‘the Beast from the East’ feature strongly. Mall Galleries' Press Manager, Liberty Rowley, explores these artistic responses and contextualises them within the wider tradition of snow painting:

Winter landscapes didn’t become a popular subject for painters until the Fifteenth Century. Prior to this, western art had its sights firmly set on religious scenes, which rarely included snow. Northern European painters were the first key proponents of snow painting, being the most exposed to snowfall, especially during the ‘Little Ice Age’ of the Sixteenth to Nineteenth Centuries.

Marsh Farm in Winter, Essex by Peter Kelly Sen RBA NEAC (Oil 71 x 97 cm £4,000)

Snow Fields and Rising Moon, Dorset by Richard Pikesley PNEAC (Oil 69 x 84 cm £2,600)

Winter Track across the South Downs by Rosie Copeland (Oil 24 x 30 cm £475)

December Snow, Herefordshire by Anthony Morris RP NEAC (Oil 76 x 91 cm £2,800)

Snow Day by Jan Gaska (Oil 35 x 43 cm £600)

Bruegel’s ‘The Hunters in the Snow’ (1565) is regarded by many as the first true winter landscape painting, exposing the realities of village life for those scratching a living on the frozen land. But it wasn’t until the late Nineteenth Century that plein air painting became a primary focus, and the genre of snow painting was established.

Snowy conditions were ideally suited to the Impressionists, who hoped to capture momentary impressions of light and weather, and referred to the effets de neige (the effects of snow). With their focus on direct observation and plein air painting, the New English Art Club could be considered direct descendants of this impressionistic impulse.

Winter Sun by Lynda Payne (Oil 32 x 32 cm £450)

Silver Birch in Snow by Clare Bowen (Oil 34 x 39 cm £450)

Concentrating on contributions to this year’s New English Art Club Annual Exhibition, Fred Cuming’s The Ridge under the Snow, with its dark menacing sky, partially submerged branches and hollows recalls the danger implicit in extreme weather, and mankind's relative insubstantiality when pitted against powerful forces of nature. 

The Ridge under Snow by Fred Cuming RBA ROI (Oil 61 x 61 cm £10,780)

Fingringhoe - Winter by Michael Whittlesea NEAC (Watercolour & charcoal 48 x 56 cm £850)

Making the viewer feel small in a more nostalgic way, Andrew Macara’s scenes of ice skating and snowball fights, and Melissa Scott-Miller’s Snow in Islington recall childhood, evoking a time when snow was not merely the latest obstacle to my daily commute.

Christmas, Tower of London Ice Rink by Andrew Macara NEAC (Oil 51 x 71 cm £1,850)

Snowballers, Allestree Park, Derby by Andrew Macara NEAC (Oil 97 x 142 cm £7,500)

Snow in Islington, March 2018 by Melissa Scott-Miller RP NEAC RBA (Oil 102 x 81 cm £3,800)

Winter by Genevieve Draper (Oil 62 x 52 cm £2,100)

Snowfall is not restricted to the picturesque countryside. Paul Handley has a series of works documenting a multi-storey car park under snow, and Glyn Saunders’ South Circular, December features street lamps mingled with the bare black branches of winter trees. Lynda Minter’s buildings and cranes look almost festive in the artist’s Waterloo Winter Evening.

The Multi-Storey Car Park - Snow I by Paul Handley NEAC (Oil 41 x 28 cm £500)

The Multi-Storey Car Park - Snow II by Paul Handley NEAC (Oil 28 x 41 cm £500)

South Circular, December by Glyn Saunders (Oil 20 x 22 cm £350)

Waterloo Winter Evening Buildings and Cranes by Lynda Minter (Acrylic 67 x 68 cm £650)

Being a temperate climate, Britain rarely gets seriously cold, and snow often becomes slush with alacrity; Judith Gardner, Sarah Spencer and Sarah Manolescue capture this sludgey aftermath perfectly.

Winter, Elmley Marshes by Sarah Spencer NEAC (Oil 30 x 43 cm £1,200)

Landscape - Melting Snow by Judith Gardner RBA NEAC (Oil 36 x 33 cm £490)

Receding Snow, the Trundle by Sarah Manolescue (Oil 35 x 35 cm £425)

The New English Art Club Annual Exhibition showcases stunning examples of winter scenes, some of which I've explored here, and all of which are available to view in the gallery from 15th to 23rd June. The exhibition can also be viewed online. If you are interested in purchasing any of the works from the exhibition, contact us at admin@mallgalleries.com or on 020 7930 6844.

Landscape - After the Rain by Charles Rake NEAC (Charcoal & pencil 97 x 76 cm £1,750)

Garden - March Snowfall by Judith Gardner RBA NEAC (Oil 36 x 36 cm £750)