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Guy C. Wiggins - Chicago Blizzard (1948)

Morris Hall Pancoast - Pennsy Train Shed (1917)

Given my forthcoming move from Chicago to the Philadelphia area, planned to happen within the next several months, today's December Double serves as a reminder that I certainly won't be missing out on any messy weather. ‘Chicago Blizzard’ by American painter Guy C. Wiggins and ‘Pennsy Train Shed’ by fellow American painter Morris Hall Pancoast effectively convey the cold and snow accumulation which accompanies the winter months. Take cover!

As testament to the quality of their construction, I find it amazing these city buildings and transport facilities manage to endure year after year of heavy snow, freezing temperatures, and other harsh elements. Likewise, urban dwellers are able to cope through the season, bundling up and taking shelter when necessary.

I’m curious if the subject in ‘Chicago Blizzard’ is a view of the Michigan Avenue Bridge, either a view looking north or south. I love how the palette is restricted to white and grey, with some yellow sparsely used for windows in the background buildings, street lights, and the headlights of the automobile, as well as the faint color applied to the figure in the bottom left. What a beautiful touch! Wiggin’s painting renders the falling snow in sharp brushstrokes, depicting the action of the blizzard as strident and caustic.

Influenced by the Impressionist style of painting, it’s perhaps unsurprising the Pancoast’s depiction of the snow in ‘Pennsy Train Shed’ seems soft in comparison to Wiggin’s, however this approach doesn’t convey the weather as any less troublesome. Thanks to the murky palette of white and dull blues, the scene in ‘Shed’ does not look like an easy chore to commute through. On an added note, this work offers many interesting details, including the automobile tracks in the snow and large plumes of steam from the trains.

My question to you, dear reader, is which scene would you rather find yourself in?
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