Courbet first started to paint snow scenes in the winter of 1856-57, but it was only in the 1860s that he developed a strong interest in this theme. He was no doubt inspired by the countryside of his native Franche-Comté, which suffered particularly heavy falls of snow in the winter of 1866-67. The foreground motif of two beech trees recurs in a number of paintings by Courbet from 1858-66. It is highly probable that this picture shows an imagined, rather than a real landscape, in which favourite landscape elements such as the beech trees were reused. Courbet’s snow scenes were a source of inspiration to the Impressionists, notably Sisley, Monet and Pissarro.