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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March Paintings

Late Winter Moon, March, Peter Fiore
It would seem that the art of any given month revolves around three items--the weather, the holidays, and those events which have happened, or routinely happen during that month. With the month of March, for instance, we bring to mind weather that is either blustery with the last gasps of winter or delightful with the first harbingers of Spring. The two are not necessarily opposites; artists are torn between depicting a winter that never seems to end and a spring that always seems to arrive late. We see melting snow with daffodils poking their bright faces up though fortuitous gaps in the frosty whiteness permeating most of the landscape (below).

Daffodils with Bad Timing, Suni Roveto
March weather can also be downright ugly as the warmth of an approaching spring plays havoc with God's winter decorating scheme, leaving behind a drab, brownish, gray décor in its place as seen in John Atkinson Grimshaw's March Morning (below). Despite the artist's valiant attempts to liven up the color scheme with deep rusts and perhaps just a hint of tired green, minus the title, the time of day might be in question but certainly not the month of the year.

March Morning, John Atkinson Grimshaw
March weather is also notorious for being windy. The problem for artists is that it's damned hard to see the wind and still harder to paint it. Thus artists are left to paint only the effects of the wind as seen in March Winds (below), by Phillip Richard Morris. Notice that he and I have both resisted the temptation to include a young boy flying a kite in this parade of breezy images.

March Winds, Phillip Richard Morris
From a historic point of view the oldest reference to the month of March probably comes from Roman history--the Ides of March. It was on March 15th (Ides means the middle, 13th through the 15th) in 44 BC that the Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar was assassinated (stabbed to death) on the floor of the Roman Senate by Brutus, Cassius, and as many as sixty co-conspirators. The date is also important in Roman history as it marked the end of the Roman republic and the beginning of the Roman empire. The bloody scene is depicted in all its grizzly details below by an unknown artist.

The Ides of March by an unknown artist.
(In the days before metal detectors.)
St. Patrick
And what would a discourse on the month of March be without some painted reference to the month's only Holiday--St. Patrick's Day. The Saturday Evening Post cover artist, Norman Rockwell probably wracked his brain quite a while before settling on the Irish confectionary artist (below) for his St. Paddy Cake for Policemen, for the March 16, 1940, cover painting. And just for the record, the portrait (right) is said to be St. Patrick himself, though the clover leaf and the pre-dominance of green are only circumstantial evidence. I've heard it's not a very good likeness.

St. Paddy Cake for Policemen, Norman Rockwell, 03-16-1940

And you thought I forgot, didn't you?

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