William Singer Captures the Beauty of Winter

By Daniel Fulco, Ph.D., Agnita M. Stine Schreiber Curator

In the spirit of the holiday season and as winter begins, we hope you enjoy this drawing from the collection.  

William Henry Singer, Jr. (American, 18681943)
December 25th through January 7th, 1927
Charcoal, chalk, and graphite on paper
13 1/4″h x 13 7/8″w 
Collection of Washington County Museum of Fine Arts
Gift of Anna & William Singer, A0022,32.0222

In this tranquil landscape, Singer transports the viewer to a serene, winter landscape near Olden, a village nestled in the western Norwegian countryside and a place treasured by the artist and his wife, Anna Brugh Singer (founders of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in 1929). William’s drawings are often similar to his oil paintings; both glorify the Land of the Midnight Sun with its sparkling glaciers, expansive valleys, and soaring peaks.

Drawn with smooth, soft shading, Singer’s dreamy, Impressionist style complements the scene’s calm yet imposing atmosphere. Using small white dots as snowflakes and judging by the dark clouds, Singer suggests that a storm might be approaching. Note his use of several favorite recurring motifs: tall evergreens; a wall in the foreground (buried partially by the snow); and small houses hugging the hillside, just below the lofty mountains. In relation to this landscape’s setting, Singer wrote:

My deep love of solitude and silence, of mountains, rivers, and nature undefiled generally, has given Norway her great appeal, and this especially in winter when overall is purity, mystery, and peace.

In 1927, Singer created a series of beautiful, delicate drawings depicting the area around Olden. At the suggestion of his dealer in The Netherlands, Frans Bouffa, these works were reproduced for inclusion in a calendar as a means of promoting the artist’s work. Singer’s landscapes depicted scenes of each season that correspond to periods of approximately two weeks per month.