Hendrick Avercamp, Winter scene with skaters near a castle, ca. 1608-09
London, National Gallery
From the museum website
This special winter exhibition focuses on the Gallery’s collection of Dutch winter landscapes.
In the 17th century, north-western Europe suffered a series of unusually severe winters, known as ‘The Little Ice Age’. Snowfall was heavy, and canals and rivers regularly froze over. Intent on portraying their surroundings as naturalistically as possible, Dutch landscape painters grappled with the aesthetic possibilities and practical problems of capturing these icy conditions.
Through increasingly harsh winters, they continued to find inspiration in their frigid surroundings, experimenting with composition, colour and the effects of light.
In the highly competitive Dutch art market, winter scenes became a popular specialisation. Interpretations varied – some artists focused on the pleasures or hardships of the winter weather, while others explored the evocation of winter light and the frost-filled atmosphere.
These intriguing paintings celebrate the resilience of the Dutch people as they go about their daily business, even finding joy in the winter weather.