About Rutger Verburgh
Rotterdam, 1678 – 1727, Rotterdam
His name is sometimes spelt Rut Verburg.
Painter of the every day outside activities and moments of leisure of the population of the country side and small towns of the Dutch Republic, set in attractive summer and winter landscapes.
Son and pupil of Dionijs Verburgh (Rotterdam circa 1650 – 1722 Rotterdam), who was also a landscape painter. He specialised in panoramic Rhine landscapes.
Dionijs had twelve children. One of his younger sons, Jan (who was born in 1689), was also a painter, active in Rotterdam and in Middelburg. Very little is known about him.
The Verburgh’s were Catholics living in the mainly Protestant Dutch Republic; all of Dionijs’ children were baptised.
About 17th century Dutch winters
North-Western Europe went through a small ice age from circa 1550 until the middle of the 19th century.
Two thirds of the winters in Holland between 1600 and 1700 were very cold with long periods of frost and snow. This explains the popularity of ice skating and its representation in paintings and engravings during the 17th and early 18th century. Especially the winters of 1662-63 and of 1671-72 were very cold; January 1684 must have been the coldest month of that century. I should also mention that a quarter to a third of the 17th century winters have been mild, especially in the second quarter of the century.
About the attraction of painted winter scenes
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).
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.
Daily life was partly transposed onto the ice: goods and passengers were ferried by sledge, instead of by carts or boats; the water supply would be ensured by a makeshift well that had been cut into the ice.
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 our clients.
Painted winter landscapes had initiated in Flanders with Pieter Brueghel the Elder in the third quarter of the 16th century. Following the iconoclast riots and the Sack of Antwerp in 1576 Flemish Protestants fled in large numbers to Holland. Amongst them many painters. Hans Bol and David Vinckboons brought this new subject to Holland, especially to Amsterdam.
Seventeenth century Dutch winter landscapes can be divided in several categories according to the emphasis stressed by the painter: did he go for anecdotic, Flemish-inspired genre scenes or for a naturalistic, atmospheric, sober, sometimes monochrome approach or of course for a blend of both.
To the first group belong Hendrick and Barent Avercamp, Adriaen van de Venne, Arent Arentsz., nicknamed Cabel, the early Jan van Goyen, Isaak van Ostade, Jan and Abraham Beerstraaten, Klaes Molenaer and Thomas Heeremans.
To the second group Esaias van de Velde, monochrome works of Jan van Goyen, Salomon and Jacob van Ruysdael, Aert van der Neer and Jan van de Capelle.
About our painting
Our painting bears a false signature of Klaes Molenaer. Verburgh was indeed inspired by two painters of winter scenes with ice skaters from Haarlem: Klaes Molenaer (Haarlem before 1630 – 1676 Haarlem) and Thomas Heeremans (Haarlem 1641 – 1697 Haarlem).
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is such a naive, anecdotic Dutch winter landscape with ice skaters.