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Jan Beerstraaten, The Castle of Muiden in Winter

Key facts
Full title The Castle of Muiden in Winter
Artist Jan Beerstraaten
Artist dates 1622 - 1666
Date made 1658
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 96.5 × 129.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1890
Inventory number NG1311
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Castle of Muiden in Winter
Jan Beerstraaten

The heavy, black clouds that hang low over the castle seem to threaten snow and yet more snow. Although a fitful sun struggles through, the eerie light on the castle’s yellow walls and steely tipped towers seems to come more from the moon than the sun. The tiny people skating on the ice seem insignificant against the building’s imposing presence.

Muiden Castle was one of the oldest and most important medieval castles in early seventeenth-century Holland, and Beerstraaten treats the painting almost as a portrait of the ancient building. We see it from the north-east, accurate and atmospheric, although Beerstraaten has altered the arrangement of the landscape to suit the picture’s composition. Looking from the north-east the sea would be behind the castle, but the artist needed the reflected light to pick out the front of the building and take the eye into the distance beyond it.

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