A frozen waterway under a pale winter sky functions as a stage for lively diversions, such as skating and “kolf” (an early form of golf). The atmosphere of freezing cold is wonderfully portrayed by such subtle details as the blurred horizon and the opaque palette and symbolized by the figure of “Jack Frost”, standing in the far right.
Avercamp typically used a combination of bluish green in his paintings. His use of schmaltz on top of the preparation of his panels, yet underneath the surface layer of paint, enhances the already strong impact of a timeless sensation.
Winter pleasures on the ice are a place of bonding between all the different classes of the population. The vast space provides a sense of freedom to the enjoyment of every individual.
Hendrick Avercamp was a prolific draughtsman, who cleverly used his figure studies to enrich his painted composition with anecdotal detail. All the main characters in the foreground of the present landscape can also be found in other works by the artist. The two figures in the right foreground, for example, are taken from a drawing in the Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam.[i]
The Winter landscape as a specialism originates in mid-sixteenth-century Flanders, with Pieter Bruegel the Elder as its founding-father. In Holland, the development of this particular subject reached its peak during the first decades of the seventeenth century, called the small Ice Age. Avercamp certainly knew winter depictions by his immediate predecessors from Flanders.
With Edward Speelman, London, 1966.
With Robert Noortman, Maastricht, 1996, acquired by
Dr Anton C.R. Dreesmann (inventory no. A-84);Sale
Christie’s London, 11 April 2002, lot 528;
a private collection, The Netherlands;
With Douwes Fine Art, Amsterdam, 2006;
- Dordrecht, Dordrechts Museum, ‘Nederlandse Landschappen uit de zeventiende eeuw’, 1963, not in catalogue.
- San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor/ Toledo, Toledo Museum of Art/ Boston, Museum of Fine Arts 1966/67, no. 43;
- Maastricht, Museum aan het Vrijthof, ’25 Years of TEFAF Masterpieces’, 13-25 March 2012,
- “The Age of Rembrandt”, exhibition catalogue San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor/ Toledo, Toledo Museum of Art/ Boston, Museum of Fine Arts 1966/67, no. 43, with ill.;
- Clara J. Welcker, “Hendrick Avercamp 1585-1634 bijgenaamd `De Stomme van Kampen’ en Barent Avercamp 1512-1679 ‘Schilders tot Kampen’ “, Doornspijk l979, no. S57.7, p. 214;
- Peter C. Sutton, “Dutch and Flemish Seventeenth-century paintings: The Harold Samuel Collection”, Cambridge 1992, p. 14, ill. fig. 1 (discussed under the entry for catalogue no. 1, a painting by Arent Arentsz alias Cabel , who later based some of his figures on the two figures to the far right in the present Avercamp painting or the Avercamp drawing (T19) );.
- Schapelhouman & P. Schatborn, “Dutch Drawings of the Seventeenth Century in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam: Artists Born Between 1580
and 1600”, Amsterdam & London 1998, Vol. I, no. 10, p. 6.