This is one of Van der Neer's greatest and most atmospheric winter landscapes, chosen for both the landmark Masters of 17th Century Dutch Landscape Painting exhibition in 1987-8 and the Winter Landscape exhibition at the Mauritshuis in 2001-2.
Van der Neer specialized in winter landscapes in which winter is not only indicated by its passive effects such as ice, lying snow and frost, but by the active ones, such as wind, moving clouds and driving snow. Here we see a blizzard in which snowflakes are driven across the picture from right to left by a strong wind which bends the bare trees and catches the cloaks of the figures who mostly turn their backs to it, or if they cannot, like the boy with a dog in the foreground protect their faces with a raised hand. The Dutch men, women and children in Van der Neer's painting are not out on the ice showing off on their skates and in their finery; rather they are getting on with life in the middle of a bleak winter. A group of figures are trying to catch eels through a hole in the ice; the woven basket that will contain them once caught is in the punt to the right.
As Van Suchtelen observed, Van der Neer is the only Dutch 17th-century painter to dare to depict falling snow; a difficult challenge since the countless dots of white paint could easily undermine the pictorial illusion of space. For Van der Neer this would have presented a welcome challenge, one which he here meets by concentrating the falling snow in flurries.1
Van der Neer started painting winter landscapes in the early 1640s, but most of them are undated. On the basis of the costumes, this painting can be dated circa 1655-60, a dating followed by both Sutton and Van Suchtelen, while Schulz dates it 'around 1660?'.2
We are most grateful to John Somerville for his help in cataloguing the picture.
1. See Van Suchtelen, under Literature, no. 17.
2. Sutton, under Literature, p. 386; Van Suchtelen, op. cit.; Schulz, under Literature, p. 143.
Oil on canvas
Aert van der Neer
London, Royal Academy, Dutch Art, 1929, no. 203, pp. 100-101;
London, Royal Academy, 17th Century Art in Europe, 1938, p. 68, no. 133, reproduced (p. 64 in the Illustrated Souvenir Catalogue, where reproduced plate 22);
Dutch & Flemish Paintings of the Seventeenth Century from the Cook Collection, August 1946 - January 1948, at Lincoln, Rochdale, Nottingham, Middlesborough, Hull, Birkenhead, Sheffield, Bradford, Norwich & Bedford, variously as number 32, 45, 48 or 49;
The Art Exhibitions Bureau,Touring Exhibition, Old Masters from the Cook Collection, February 1950 - June 1951, at Worthing, Doncaster, Newcastle, Bradford, Lincoln, Liverpool, Wakefield, Dudley, Swansea, Bootle & Shrewsbury, no. 14 (and possibly other numbers);
Laren, Singer Museum, Kunstschatten, 1959, no. 60, reproduced p. 31;
Leiden, Lakenhal, 17de eeuwse meesters uit Nederlands particulier bezit, 1965, pp. 9-10, no. 31, reproduced fig. 8;
San Francisco, California, Palace of the Legion of Honor; Toledo, Art Museum; Boston, Museum of Fine Arts; The Age of Rembrandt, 1966-67, p. 91, no. 52;
Brussels, Palais voor Schone Kunsten, Rembrandt en zijn tijd, 1971, p. 90, no. 70, reproduced p. 91;
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum; Boston, Museum of Fine Arts; Philadelphia, Museum of Art, Masters of 17th Century Dutch Landscape Painting, 1987-88, no. 61;
The Hague, Mauritshuis, Holland: Frozen in Time, 24 November 2001 - 25 February 2002, no. 17.
60.8 by 75.7 cm.; 24 by 29 3/4 in.
G. Hoet (P. Terwesten ed.), Catalogus of Naamlyst van schilderyen met derzelver pryzen, vol. III, The Hague 1770, p. 247;
Abridged Catalogue of the Pictures at Doughty House, Richmond. Belonging to Sir Frederick Cook, Bart. Visconde de Monserrate, editions 1903, 1907 & 1914, no. 148, as in The Long Gallery;
J.O. Kronig, A Catalogue of the Paintings at Doughty House, Richmond, and elsewhere in the Collection of Sir Frederick Cook, edited by Herbert Cook, vol. II, London 1914, p. 63, cat. no. 294, reproduced plate XV, as in the Long Gallery;
C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné..., vol. VII, London 1923, p. 450, no. 531;
M.W. Brockwell ed., Abridged Catalogue of the Pictures at Doughty House, Richmond, Surrey, in the Collection of Sir Herbert Cook, Bart., London 1932, p. 37, cat. no. 294, as in the Long Gallery;
A.B. de Vries, "Old Masters in the collection of Sidney van den Bergh", in Apollo, vol. LXXX, no. 33, November 1964, p. 357, reproduced p. 355;
F. Bachmann, Die Landschaften des Aert van der Neer, Degener 1966, p. 55;
W. Stechow, Dutch Landscape Painting of the 17th Century, London 1966, p. 204;
A.B. de Vries (ed.), Verzameling Sidney J. van den Bergh, Wassenaer 1968, p. 78, reproduced;
K. Müllenmeister, Meer und Landschaft in Licht des 17. Jahrhunderts. I. Seestücke und Flusslandschaften, Bremen 1973, p. 167, reproduced;
F. Bachmann, Aert van der Neer, Bremen 1982, pp. 90 and 117, reproduced fig. 88a and in colour p. 90;
P.C. Sutton, Masters of 17th Century Dutch Landscape Painting, Boston 1987, pp. 386-87, no. 61, reproduced in colour fig. 43;
A. van Suchtelen, Holland Frozen in Time. The Dutch Winter Landscape in the Golden Age, exhibition catalogue, The Hague 2001, unpaginated section, no. 17, reproduced in colour facing page, p. 162, with incorrect provenance;
W. Schulz, Aert van der Neer, Doornspijk 2002, pp. 143-44, no. 65, reproduced fig. 34 and colour plate 18.
Diederik Middeldorp, Leiden;
His sale, Leiden, Van der Eyk, 21 October 1761, lot 7 (p. 4), for 180 florins to Haazebroek for Neufville brothers;
Joan Willem Frank;
His deceased sale, The Hague, Francken, 5 April 1762, lot 33 (p. 9), for 47 florins to Hendrik Verschuuring, Commis ter Finantie van Holland, The Hague;
His deceased sale, The Hague, Rietmulder, 17 September 1770, lot 121 (pp. 21-22);
Sir Francis Cook, 1st Baronet, Visconde de Monserrate (1817-1901), Doughty House, Richmond, after 1860, bought from Dale? for £400;
By descent to Sir Frederick Cook (1844-1920), Doughty House, Richmond;
By descent to Sir Herbert Cook (1868-1939);
By descent to Sir Francis Ferdinand Maurice Cook, 4th Baronet (1907-1978);
With Thos. Agnew and either Katz or Edward Speelman, London, 1956;
Sidney van den Bergh, Wassenaer, by 1959, until 1973;
With David Koetser, Zurich, from whom bought by the present owner.