Chestertown, MD, January 29, 2003 — The Washington College Department of Art, the Center for the Environment and Society and Art History Club present “Bethlehem in the Snow and Holland on the Ice: Climatic Change and the Invention of the Winter Landscape, 1560-1620,” a lecture by Lawrence O. Goedde, Ph.D., Chair of the McIntire Department of Art at the University of Virginia, Tuesday, February 11, at 8 p.m. in the College's Casey Academic Center Forum. The event is free and open to the public.
Dr. Goedde has taught art history at the University of Virginia since 1981. A graduate of Washington University, he received his Ph.D. from Columbia University and specializes in Northern Baroque art. In addition to numerous academic awards and research grants, Dr. Goedde is past vice-president of the Historians of Netherlandish Art. His talk will address both the hypothesis that painted landscapes produced in specific areas depict or imply weather conditions corresponding to the observed weather of those regions and the proposition that changes in climate are reflected in the development of art, or even that climate changes cause artistic change.
His lecture will focus on a group of snow scenes dating to 1565-1567 by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. In these works, the celebrated Flemish artist painted perhaps for the first time in Western art snowy winter weather in a large-scale format and established an artistic subject that remains popular to this day. In recent years a number of scholars of climate history have linked Bruegel's invention to the bitterly cold winter of 1564-65 and to the Little Ice Age of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. But the direct relation of works of art to climate and to changes in climate can be problematic, Dr. Goedde believes, and though Netherlandish art can be highly descriptive, there is a selective realism in Dutch landscape painting that complicates the hypothesis that climate changes necessarily influenced the artists.