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To be honest, dear reader, there are many things about August Friedrich Albrecht Schenck’s circa 1878 Anguish that I find a little bit tedious.

It’s not exactly groundbreaking to anthropomorphize animals into some sort of vague allegory of motherly bravery in an uncaring world—and the low-angle view of an unforgiving winter landscape tips the composition into the realm of melodrama.

There is one touch, though, that I consider worth pointing out—the means by which Schenck conveys the lead-up to the scene: the snow.

A flat wedge of snow beneath one of the lamb’s front legs records its death throes, while the foot-printed paths around the edges show where the crows have circled—judging by the quantity of prints, for some time.

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