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Winter Scene

Winter Scene, 1934, oil on fiberboard by Martha Levy


This simple, timeless winter scene of a man walking through a snowy wood is probably set near Woodstock, New York, the rural artists' colony where Martha Levy made paintings similar to this unsigned work. The simple house surrounded by snowdrifts, evergreens, and bare trees makes an idyllic picture that would be at home on a Christmas card. Yet the hunter with his rifle and red hat adds an uneasy note. Most hunters in the early 1930s were sportsmen as in previous years, but a hunting columnist noted in 1931, "The prevailing opinion in Michigan is that the deer will be hunted harder than ever this year, because with many of the hunters, it is a question of meat, rather than an emphasis upon the sport." Michigan was not the only state where unemployed men used their hunting rifles to feed their families. In Arkansas, hunters were seen on city streets selling game to supplement their incomes. Does this hunter, with no game in hand, have a family at home waiting anxiously for him to return with meat? Is he just out for a day’s sport? The artist leaves the questions unanswered.

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Taken on April 18, 2009