Andries Vermeulen specialised in these attractive, elegant winter river landscapes with ice skaters. He was born in Dordrecht and worked there almost his complete career.
Our painting dates from his last years (he died in 1814), when he was active in Amsterdam. Two of its monuments, then still standing at the Singel, can be identified in the centre background.
At the left stands a typically Dutch “koek-en-zopie” tent where one could eat cookies and drink a mixture of German lager and rum.
About Andries Vermeulen
Dutch painter, draughtsman and engraver
Dordrecht 1763 – 1814 Amsterdam
Painter of winter scenes; occasionally also of summer landscapes, portraits and genre scenes.
Pupil of his father Cornelis Vermeulen (1732 – 1813), who painted small
copies of 17th century Dutch landscapes. After his death the sale of his possessions contained more than 200 of these copies. He was also active as an art dealer. Andries died one year after his father.
Pupil also of the little-known Thomas Gaal (1739 – 1817).
Andries was known for the ease and rapidity with which he worked: he painted very nice compositions in pleasing colours. He sold his works not only in Holland, but also abroad.
He left his native Dordrecht shortly before his death; he lived for some time in Amsterdam, where he passed away.
About the attraction of painted winter scenes
North Western Europe went through a small ice age from circa 1550
until the middle of the 19th century.
The harsh weather conditions during winter change the light, the air, the atmosphere, the colours. This must have been a first challenge for painters.
Fifty five percent of Holland lays under the level of the sea. The country was/is constantly fighting to evacuate water from the land: there are numerous rivers and canals. Frozen water ways offered people the chance to have a good time on the ice: a mix of people from all social layers would go for a stroll on the ice, others would go ice skating, go for a ride in a sledge, play kolf (the popular forerunner of ice hockey).
It is clear that the atmospheric conditions, the pleasures and businesses of winter formed a very attractive subject for the painters, for their clients and still do for us.
About our painting
Merchants would set up shops on the ice. People could eat and drink in a typically Dutch “koek-en-zopie” tent. This term refers to the food and beverage that one could and still can buy while ice skating. Its best known drink was “zopie”; that was made of “bock”, which was a strong German lager, mingled with rum.
Such a tent is visible at the left side of our composition.
This must be a late work by Vermeulen, dating from his Amsterdam years, because in the centre background one can see a few monuments located at the Singel:
- the Haringpakkerstoren or the Jan Rodepoortstoren, which were very similar towers that were both destroyed in 1829,
- the dome of the round Lutheran church.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is such a pleasant composition holding a nice variety of figures and poses: the elegant ice skater wearing a bicorne at the centre, the country woman crouching near a whole in the ice, the small boys skating - one of them is actually falling in the left foreground – and the elegant figures gathering around a “koek en zopie” tent.