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Melting Snow

Janet M. Torpy, MD
JAMA. 2010;303(12):1123. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.182.
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As winter's chill fades in early spring, the thaw turns trickles of water into thundering streams. Snowbanks recede, tiny buds begin their swell, and the sun's changing angle bestows increments of warmth, welcomed by all. In late 19th-century Norway, (Johan Fredrik) Frits Thaulow (1847-1906) painted a perfect example of the season's transition in Melting Snow (cover). The Lysaker River, which slices its silver swath to the west of Oslo, sinuously slips across Thaulow's canvas in one of several scenes he executed near the Grini farm in Baerum. Best described as a Realist painter, the Norwegian native—who passed examinations to practice as a pharmacist, like his successful father—eventually had a typical art education for the time, beginning in Copenhagen, then in Germany, and continuing in Paris. His eclectic life led him around the world, where he painted, first in oil, and later—after 1880—in pastel. River scenes such as Melting Snow, also known as Thawing Ice, captivated Thaulow, who began his career as a marine artist. He painted riparian views of the Seine and other French rivers, Dutch waterways, the canals of Venice, and even the Delaware River, during one of several visits to the United States.

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Frits Thaulow (1847-1906), Melting Snow, 1887, Norwegian. Pastel on tan wove paper. 54.6×94.6 cm. Courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago (http://www.artic.edu/aic/), Chicago, Illinois; Margaret Day Blake Collection, 2004.86. Photography © The Art Institute of Chicago.



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