Winter Landscape with Skaters is a 1608 painting by Hendrick Avercamp where the Dutch artist, who was a deaf mute, carefully portrayed a harsh winter day in 17th century Netherlands. On the surface of this traditional winter scene we can see the townspeople enjoying themselves, choosing the spend the day in leisure, ice skating and sleighing on the thick ice which has formed.
Upon closer inspection there is much more going on. We can see people working, fisherman, people collecting water, a man centre front is carrying a bale of hay across the ice and even a horse and sleigh carrying three city officials across town, being pushed by another man to get across the terrain. We see adults and children, we see animals – birds in the sky and more gruesomely we see a dog and a bird devouring what appears to be a carcass of a horse. A drunken man has fallen over loosing his hat and cane. This early work in Avercamp’s career is a masterpiece of people of all ages and classes in everyday life.
Hendrick Avercamp’s Winter Landscape with Skaters can be found in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam