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The Art of JAMA
December 11, 2013

From an Upstairs Window, Winter: L. L. FitzGerald

JAMA. 2013;310(22):2370-2371. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.5457

South of Winnipeg, the capital city of the Canadian province of Manitoba, is mostly farmland, and north of the city is a region of lakes and boreal coniferous forest. Still farther north is the estuary of the Churchill River, where thousands of polar bears gather in November to hunt seals on the ice of Hudson Bay. Winter can be severe in Manitoba, especially when high-pressure air masses blow down from the Arctic Circle. The average snowfall near Winnipeg is 126 cm per year and blizzards are frequent, yet Manitoba has the clearest skies in Canada: good for painting in the daytime and viewing the aurora borealis at night. Winter activities in Winnipeg include river skating and cross-country skiing, but when the air is so cold and dry that it takes your breath away, the prudent course of action is to stay inside where it is warm. From an Upstairs Window, Winter, by the Canadian painter Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald (1890-1956), is a view from indoors looking out at a Winnipeg snowfall. On the interior windowsill are a pencil, sketchpad, and pitcher of water, and beyond the frosty plane of the window is a view of the artist’s backyard. The still life in the foreground communicates with the landscape geometrically (the angles of the window frame and roof lines, the organic forms of the pitcher and bare trees) and tonally, with echoes of white in the pitcher and the snow.