The Mast-tree Grove, Ivan Shishkin
One of my favorites by the great Russian landscape painter. “Mast-tree Grove”, means a stand of trees suitable for making the masts of large sailing ships.
I have to stand back in awe at the way he has handled a subject that could be reduced to sameness in the hands of a lesser painter. As you scan across the painting, Shishkin treats you to a dozen different sets of foreground to background relationships.
The entire, complex scene reads clearly and simply at any distance, thanks to his deft control of his compositional elements and lighting effects. An absolutely masterful example of the use of value in landscape painting.
The original is in the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, which does not really have any of their collection online; just a tiny reproduction of the painting on this highlights page.
The Google Art Project has an inexplicably terrible, color-shifted image here (zoomable no less). How that got past anyone, even an algorithm, I don’t know.
The best online image I’ve found of this well known work is on the Elsewhere blog (which, incidentally, is an excellent art blog, for which I will issue a Timesink Warning).