Ferdynand Ruszczyc (1870-1936) originally studied law at the University of St. Petersburg. Between 1892 and 1897 he studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts under the direction of Ivan Shishkin and Arkhip Kuindzhi. During and after his studies he traveled around Europe. After five years of teaching painting, he moved to Vilnius, where he was involved in animating the cultural and artistic life. After returning, he settled in his family estate in Bohdanovo. Over the years, he exhibited his works at European exhibitions and salons. In his works he dealt with landscape painting, his favorite motifs being marine views, solitary settlements, changes in nature and human struggles with it.
Description of the painting:
The work “The Last Snow” is a frame taken from Ruszczyc’s native Bohdanovo. The artist shows a branching forest stream, the banks of which are covered with patches of snow that has not yet melted. The course of the river begins in the upper left corner of the work, leading horizontally through the image field. The branch located in the foreground almost goes beyond the frame of the work. The mirror of the water is shown in dark shades of navy. Trees without leaves are reflected in it. Their location – almost on the surface, makes it seem as if the level of the river has been unnaturally raised by thaws. The banks devoid of vegetation are shown in shades of green and ochre.
Ruszczyc, creating the work, focuses on rendering light phenomena. On the surface of the river, visible reflections of the sun, creating brighter spots, as well as the shadow cast by the banks shown in almost black tones. The patches of land are crossed by shadows cast by the bare trees. The blurred contour, as well as the way it is framed, creates a specific, romantic mood. This is emphasized by the comparison of the almost monochromatic banks kept in subdued colors, illuminated by white patches of snow, with the intense navy of the river. As well as the way of applying the paint – thick brushstrokes giving texture to the work. The picture, being a fragment of the landscape, is a kind of study of nature. The artist shows the still vegetating nature that will awaken in spring. The melting snow brings hope for the quick arrival of the next season. It gives a symbolic dimension inviting to reflections on transience and renewal.