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Anthonie Verstraelen (Dutch, 1594-1641)
Winter Sport in Holland, c. 1630-40
Oil on wood panel, 14-3/4 x 23-3/4 in.
August Heckscher Collection.  1959.125

About This Work

Although little is known of the life of Anthonie Verstraelen, Winter Sport in Holland is a fine example in the tradition of 17th century Dutch winter landscapes. With roots in the work of the 16th century painter Pieter Bruegel, Hendrik Avercamp established the type in the early 17th century. Typically the view down the length of a frozen canal is framed by buildings and trees in the middleground with figures dispersed across the foreground and arranged along diagonals receding into the distance. In the 17th century, the canals in Holland regularly froze during the winter, providing amusement for all classes of society. The lively scene requires close observation. Fashionably dressed figures in the foreground engage the viewer and charming vignettes appear throughout the scene: the couple gazing into each other's eyes in the left foreground and the two boys talking excitedly just beyond them, the figure demonstrating koif (ice hockey) technique in the right foreground, the stooped couple making their way across the ice in the center of the painting and beyond them the two fallen skaters in the middleground, the horse-drawn sleigh seen from the rear in the left middleground, and skaters swaying to and fro across the background.


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