Sometimes I Google dumb things. For instance, I was wondering if I felt like doing a study of cloth in linocut. Instead of hanging a towel from a nail in the wall and lighting it, I armchaired my idea and Googled it. I was looking for pictures of hanging cloth so I could get an idea of tone and composition, and to see how fast I got bored of the idea. Yes, it was a dumb Google search. But here’s the good news: in the search for “hanging cloth,” a painting of washing laundry in ice holes came up. Thank you God of Random! I did another more specialized search, and found a another.
To state the obvious, this looks awfully cold. I suppose the grease and oil stains would have to wait until summer to come out. If the women were doing laundry, what was the painter doing? The camera was invented in 1816, so I’m hoping these weren’t painted outside. Water based paints like tempera would have frozen. Oil paint doesn’t freeze, but it does get rather stiff when it’s cold. Perhaps that’s why the first one is painted so quickly, and with thin paint. The second is more detailed, so I’m guessing people would have been posed individually to recreate the scene, or maybe he was one of those very impressive painters that can paint realistic figures from their mind. The third looks as if it could have been painted outside. Thick paint, alla prima, and likely a good spot for standing, but again – exercising in the snow is fine enough, but standing still in the snow is very, very cold. I’d have taken a photo and run back inside. That’s not true. I would have Googled it and decided not to paint anything at all.
Above: Washing in Finnish ice hole, Pekka Halonen (1865 – 1933)
Below: Women doing laundry, Jahn Ekenaes, 1891
Winter Laundry Line, Nikolai Efimovich Timkov, 1965