Avercamp Hendrick

Avercamp Hendrick

Hendrick Avercamp b Amsterdam. 1585. d Amsterdam. 1634
A Scene on the Ice Near a Town. cl615. Oil on panel. h58 * w90cm. h22&x w35fcin. National Gallery. London

Avercamp Hendrick A Scene on the Ice Near a Town

An entire town full of people seems to be enjoying itself on a frozen lake. The picture wonderfully evokes the chilly skies of a northern winter.

The attention to detail in many of the figures, such as the woman with her red sash at the lower left, brings the scene to life, giving it a joyful feeling. (It is said that Avercamp was deaf, hence his acute visual sense and the almost anecdotal quality of his minutely detailed paintings.) Seventeenth-century Holland witnessed a rise in the middle classes and a decline in church patronage because of Protestant reform. This led to painters specializing in small-scale easel paintings for the new market of private collectors. Avercamp was well known for his wintory scenes, which are similar in style to those of Jan Bruegel, and his careful observation of lighting effects made his paintings highly prized. He was also one of the originators of realist landscape painting in seventeenth- century Holland.