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Isack van Ostade, A Winter Scene

Key facts
Full title A Winter Scene
Artist Isack van Ostade
Artist dates 1621 - 1649
Date made 1640s
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 48.8 × 40 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG848
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Winter Scene
Isack van Ostade

Isack van Ostade’s little village seems to be a hard place to live. Although there’s no snow, the grey clouds threaten and there is a feeling of bone-chilling cold. The old cottage on top of the bank is ramshackle and touched with frost, its roof hardly robust enough to keep out the weather. And yet the overall impression of this painting is far from depressing.

It was painted in the 1640s, at the beginning of the Little Ice Age when, in the winters, Europe froze to a degree unknown before and the poor people of the countryside knew hardship and poverty. It’s as if van Ostade is celebrating the endurance of the Dutch people, but also faith in the return of spring. Such sentiments would have appealed to an urban collector comfortable in his warm house, and they were portrayed with a realism that any owner would have appreciated and found entertaining.

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