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A Winter Scene with Skaters near a Castle

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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Seventeenth-century Dutch winters were notorious for their Arctic cold, with canals and rivers frozen over. In the little town that Avercamp takes us to everyone is out on the ice, making the best of it: working, playing, showing off, laughing, complaining, falling over or just about managing to stand up. Boats are frozen in, horses pull sleighs over the ice. The luscious pink castle looks almost like a giant, iced Christmas cake. We look down from a height, so that the view of the town and beyond is wide and open. Each tiny figure is no bigger than a fingernail, yet Avercamp shows their personalities and, even if they have their backs to us, the story they have to tell. Hendrick Avercamp led the way in making pictures of ‘life on the ice’.

The National Gallery, London



A Winter Scene with Skaters near a Castle


about 1608-9


Oil on oak


H 40.7 x W 40.7 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1891

Work type



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Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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