Winter with Hendrick Avercamp
March holds the honour of transitioning Winter to Spring. It is a huge undertaking because Winter lingers while Spring comes out of a deep sleep. Perhaps that is why we experience the ever-changing weather patterns of March, which appear to be in a tug-of-war, with wind and rain one day, and sunshine the next.
I am celebrating Winter’s last hurrah, with Dutch painter Hendrick Avercamp (January 27, 1583 – May 15, 1634). Hendrick was one of the first landscape painters of the 17th-century Dutch school. He loved the season of winter, which is beautifully demonstrated in his landscape paintings of the Netherlands in winter. For him, winter was a time of energy and festivity, delightfully shown in his depictions of community events that are captured in his art. The streets are filled with people in group discussions, engaged in work or having fun ice skating on frozen canals. Ice skaters were a recurring theme. As a child, Hendrick enjoyed ice skating with his parents. Interestingly, he lived during the coldest period of what is known as the “Little Ice Age” which occurred in the last quarter of the 16th century.
Known as “de Stomme van Kampen” (the mute of Kampen), Hendrick worked beyond his disabilities of being deaf and mute.
Hendrick’s artwork was extremely popular in his lifetime. He became known for his winter scenes beyond the borders of the Netherlands. Even today, he garners respect for his art. In 1980, the British television series broadcast 100 Great Painting. Hendrick’s Winter Scene on a Canal (c. 1630) was included in this series.