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A Scene on the Ice near a Town
Hendrick Avercamp
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In the seventeenth century the Little Ice Age settled over Northern Europe. Rivers and canals in Holland froze over and people took to the ice for work, leisure – and accidents. Hendrik Avercamp, just starting out as an artist, took to it too. His life’s work became the depiction of winter scenes full of incident with the people he knew and had grown up with as his characters. Under the grey light of a winter’s day, they continued their lives almost unchanged – they did business, gossiped, tended children, had fun – but sped up on skates.

Avercamp’s painting is one to explore. Endless stories and character sketches are there for the curious eye to discover: the man pointing up the skirts of a girl who has taken a tumble; people playing kolf, forerunner of golf; an old man on a chair, thought to personify winter. Over all is the flag of the newly independent Dutch Republic, to be regarded by the Dutch owner of the picture with pride.

Key facts
Artist Hendrick Avercamp
Artist dates 1585 - 1634
Full title A Scene on the Ice near a Town
Date made about 1615
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 58 x 89.8 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1896
Inventory number NG1479
Location in Gallery Not on display
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