About this artwork

This crowded winter scene presents a cross-section of Dutch society enjoying a wide range of winters sports, on the frozen waterways. The figures in the foreground with long sticks are playing ‘kolf’, an early form of golf. The walled town in the background was previously thought to be the artist’s native town, Kampen, but is an imaginary site. To the left by the windmill is an inn, indicated by the sign with a white crescent. The brightly coloured figures stand out against the restrained, subtle tones of the landscape.

Hendrick Avercamp

Hendrick Avercamp

Avercamp was among the first Dutch artists to specialise in painting winter scenes. His paintings were much admired and commanded high prices during his life. Avercamp was born a deaf-mute and may have lived reclusively because of this. He trained in Amsterdam with Pieter Isaacsz, an established history and portrait painter, before returning to Kampen, a tranquil walled town on the Zuider Zee, where his father was a pharmacist. The town or some of its prominent buildings, often feature in the background of Avercamp’s compositions.