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A drawing of people spending time together on a frozen waterfront next to a mill and a bridge

A drawing of people spending time on a frozen waterfront. The waterfront is next to a mill and a bridge. Wooden sail boats are standing along by the shore. Some adult's figures are ice skating, playing hockey, while others are sitting on the ground. Several figures are standing on the bridge and seeing what others are doing. On the ground close to the bridge and the mill, some people are walking around. All figures are shown wearing warm winter clothes.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Hendrick Barentsz. Avercamp, Dutch (Amsterdam, Netherlands 1585 - 1634 Kampen, Netherlands)
A Winter Landscape
Work Type
late 1620s
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Brown and black ink, transparent and opaque watercolor, and gray wash over graphite on two sheets of antique laid paper, the secondary sheet extending 10 mm below the primary one at the bottom, partial framing line in graphite, mounted overall
18.2 x 28.7 cm (7 3/16 x 11 5/16 in.)
framed: 25.4 x 35.9 cm (10 x 14 1/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: lower right, gray wash: HA [in ligature]
  • watermark: none visible and mount too thick for beta radiography


Recorded Ownership History
E. J. Dorhout Mees, Haarlem, by descent; to Mrs. E. J. Dorhout Mees, Aerdenhout. [Christie’s, Amsterdam, 15 November 1983, lot 30] sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston (without their mark, L. 3306); Gift of George Abrams, in appreciation of Charles J. Egan, Jr., Harvard Class of 1954; Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Published Text

Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums
William W. Robinson and Susan Anderson
Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2016)

The first seventeenth-century Dutch painter to specialize in winter scenes, Hendrick Avercamp invented a compositional type that features a frozen river receding into the distance, with dozens of colorfully dressed figures skating or traversing the ice and enlivening the gray and brown tonalities and pale sunlight of the hibernal landscape. Avercamp’s pictures—the earliest date from about 1605—provided a model for artists such as Esaias van de Velde and Jan van Goyen, who, during the second and third decades of the century, elaborated and refined the winter landscape.1 Although trained in Amsterdam, Avercamp spent most of his life in the remote town of Kampen. For centuries, he was better known by the nickname “the Mute of Kampen,” which derived from his disability, than by his given name.2

Avercamp was also the first Dutch artist who turned out large numbers of finished drawings worked up with opaque and transparent watercolor and intended for sale. Most, including this Winter Landscape, are signed with his monogram. An inscription written by the owner of one such work attests that Avercamp sold landscape watercolors to collectors as early as 1613.3 The taste for colored drawings in the northern Netherlands must have been introduced by Flemish immigrant artists, such as Hans Bol (2001.54 and 2004.75), Jacob Savery, and David Vinckboons, who had all settled in Amsterdam before Avercamp studied there during the first decade of the century.4 Avercamp rarely dated his works, and the chronology of the drawings and watercolors has proven especially difficult to reconstruct.5 The Harvard Winter Landscape is probably from the late 1620s. Its composition and technique recall a watercolor from this period in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (Fig. 1), as well as one of the datable works on paper, a winter scene of 1630 in Hamburg that also includes sled-riders, skaters, and kolf players on the ice.6

Avercamp based many of the innumerable figures in his paintings and watercolors on studies drawn from life that he retained in the workshop and used in multiple images. While few such studies are known today, he must have had a large stock of them, and we can often infer their existence because of the recurrence of a figure in different works.7 For example, the hunter at the lower right of the Harvard composition appears in the watercolor reproduced in Figure 1 with his head turned to the right, left leg forward, and left arm extended to display his dead quarry. As noted by Marijn Schapelhouman, Avercamp probably drew more than one study of the same model, which would account for the variant poses of recurring figures such as this hunter.8

Seventeenth-century collectors of watercolors and finished drawings usually preserved them in albums, but a few were attached to thin planks, framed, glazed, and hung on walls.9 In 1639, the merchant Pieter Koninck, brother of the landscape painters Jacob and Philips Koninck, owned “four drawings by the Mute of Kampen behind glass.”10 The marine painter Jan van de Cappelle, who owned 883 drawings by and after Avercamp, displayed at least one in a frame. Among the paintings listed in the 1680 inventory of Van de Cappelle’s estate was “A drawing, winter, with a glass, by the Mute.”11 The Harvard watercolor, which was mounted on a plank and inserted into a seventeenth-century ebony frame, is a rare example of this practice that has survived (Fig. 2).12


1 On Avercamp’s paintings and the early development of the winter landscape in the northern Netherlands, see Pieter Roelofs, ed. Hendrick Avercamp: Master of the Ice Scene.(Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 2009), pp. 31–83.

2 Jonathan Bikker provides a thorough account of Avercamp’s life. See Roelofs, pp. 11-21.

3 Hendrick Avercamp heeft my dit gelewert / den—28 January 1613. In Campen (“Hendrick Avercamp delivered this to me 28 January 1613 in Kampen”). The annotation occurs on the verso of a landscape watercolor in the Fondation Custodia, Frits Lugt Collection, Paris; Jonathan Bikker and Marijn Schapelhouman in Roelofs, p. 15, repr. fig. 1, and pp. 90–91, repr. figs. 113 and 114. See below, note 6, for another inscription by an early owner on the verso of a watercolor in Hamburg.

4 Of the three, only Vinckboons was still alive during Avercamp’s training in Amsterdam. Although technically different from Avercamp’s watercolors, Bol’s works in transparent and opaque watercolor must have furnished an important precedent for Avercamp’s colored drawings. Marijn Schapelhouman in Roelofs, p. 90, notes that Avercamp’s free, transparent handling of the medium recalls colored drawings by the Flemish artists Jacob Grimmer and Jan Brueghel the Elder.

5 Pieter Roelofs and Marijn Schapelhouman in Roelofs, pp. 31–83. pp. 42–54, 88–92, and 96.

6 Marijn Schapelhouman in Dutch Drawings of the Seventeenth Century in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam: Artists Born between 1580 and 1600; Catalogue of Dutch and Flemish drawings in the Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (Amsterdam and London, 1998), text vol., under cat. 15, p. 8, groups the Harvard work with the watercolor Ice Scene with a Hunter Showing an Otter (Fig. 1), which he dates to the late 1620s. Black and gray ink, transparent and opaque watercolor, over a sketch in graphite or black chalk. 201 × 335 mm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, RP-T-1883-A-240. See also Marijn Schapelhouman in Roelofs, pp. 85–87, repr. figs. 108 and 109. The watercolor in Hamburg must date, on the evidence of an inscription on its verso, from 1630 at the latest; Annemarie Stefes, Niederländische Zeichnungen 1450–1850: Kupferstichkabinett der Hamburger Kunsthalle. Ed. Andreas Stolzenburg and Hubertus Gaßner (Cologne, 2011), vol. 1, cat. 31, p. 80, repr. vol. 1, p. 27, color plate 31. The inscription in brown ink, in a seventeenth-century hand, reads, “Dit heeft de Stom tot Campen gedaen Cost 6 gl ao 1630 dat is veel meer waerdich / is genaem Her-ic Avercam zijn const is in goed estijm.” (The Mute at Kampen did this Cost 6 guilders in the year 1630 it is worth much more / [he] is named Her-ic Avercamp his art is well regarded.)

7 Marijn Schapelhouman in Roelofs, pp. 104–7 and 116.

8 Ibid, p. 105.

9 Michiel C. Plomp. Hartstochtelijk verzameld: 18de‑eeuwse Hollandse verzamelaars van tekeningen en hun collecties (Paris and Bussum, Netherlands, 2001), pp. 99–100.

10 Jonathan Bikker (in Roelofs, pp. 122 and 127) cites Pieter Koninck’s 1639 inventory, which includes “vier teeckeningen van de Stom van Campen met glas bedect.”

11 The estate inventory of Jan van de Cappelle lists, with the paintings in his collection, “Een teekeningh, winter, met een glaesje van de Stomme”; Clara Johanna Welcker, Hendrick en Barent Averkamp, schilders tot Campen (Doornspijk, Netherlands 1933/1979), p. 94.

12 The work was removed from the board for conservation reasons in 1985, but is shown in Figure 2 as exhibited in its seventeenth-century frame. The wooden plank, now removed because of its inherent risk to the object, is preserved at the Harvard Art Museums.


Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Gift of George Abrams in appreciation of Charles J. Egan, Jr., Harvard Class of 1954
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • Beeldende Kunst, ed. H. P. Bremmer, vol. 3, no. 1, 1915, no. 5, n.p., repr.
  • Clara Johanna Welcker, Hendrick en Barent Averkamp, schilders tot Campen, Davaco Publishers (Doornspijk, The Netherlands, 1979), cat. no. T 7, p. 253
  • William W. Robinson, Seventeenth-Century Dutch Drawings: A Selection from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, exh. cat., H. O. Zimman, Inc. (Lynn, MA, 1991), cat. no. 25, pp. 68-69, and p. 10, repr.
  • Ger Luijten, ed., Dawn of the golden age: northern Netherlandish art, 1580-1620, exh. cat., Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and Waanders Uitgevers (Amsterdam and Zwolle, 1993), under cat. no. 307, p. 637 (n. 1)
  • Marijn Schapelhouman and Peter Schatborn, Dutch Drawings of the Seventeenth Century in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam: Artists born between 1580 and 1600, Rijksmuseum and Merrel Holberton (Amsterdam and London, 1998), under cat. no. 15, pp. 8-9 (n. 1)
  • Ger Luijten and Jan Piet Filedt Kok, The Glory of the Golden Age: Drawings and Prints, exh. cat., Waanders Uitgevers (Zwolle, 2000), p. 121, repr. fig. 1
  • Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., Aelbert Cuyp, exh. cat., ed. Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C., 2001), p. 84 (n. 12)
  • Mària van Berge-Gerbaud and Michiel C. Plomp, Collectionner, passionnément., exh. cat., Fondation Custodia (Paris, 2001), repr. as fig. 78 on p. 100
  • Michiel C. Plomp, Hartstochtelijk Verzameld: 18de-eeuwse Hollandse verzamelaars van tekeningen en hun collecties, Fondation Custodia (Paris, France, 2001), p. 99 (n. 96), repr. p. 100, fig. 78
  • Michiel C. Plomp and Eric Domela Nieuwenhuis, De verzamelingen van het Centraal Museum Utrecht. 7. Werken op papier tot 1850, ed. Liesbeth M. Helmus, Centraal Museum Utrecht (Utrecht, 2004), under cat. nos. 4A and 4B, p. 59 (n. 6)
  • Stefaan Hautekeete, ed., Tekeningen uit Nederlands Gouden Eeuw in de Verzameling van Jean de Grez, exh. cat., Uitgeverij Snoeck (Ghent, 2007), under cat. no. 18, p. 64 (n. 5)
  • Pieter Roelofs, Hendrick Avercamp: Master of the Ice Scene, exh. cat., Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam & Nieuw Amsterdam (Amsterdam, 2009), p. 127
  • Stijn Alsteens, [Review] William W. Robinson, with Susan Anderson, "Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums" (Winter 2015), pp. 531, 532
  • William W. Robinson and Susan Anderson, Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2016), cat. no. 1, pp. 28-30, repr. p. 29 and p. 30 (with frame) as fig. 2
  • Joanna Sheers Seidenstein and Susan Anderson, ed., Crossroads: Drawing the Dutch Landscape, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, 2022), pp. 112, 195, 228, repr. p. 112 as fig. I

Exhibition History

Subjects and Contexts

  • Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

Verification Level

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