• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2812

    A Romantic Affair: Paintings from an important private Dutch Collection

    18 November 2008, Amsterdam

  • Lot 396

    Andreas Schelfhout (Dutch, 1787-1870)

    On the ice near a ruin

    Price Realised  


    Andreas Schelfhout (Dutch, 1787-1870)
    On the ice near a ruin
    signed and dated 'A Schelfhout f 1839' (lower left); and marked 'A. Schelfhout/1839' (on the reverse)
    oil on panel
    38.5 x 50.5 cm.

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    The present painting by Andreas Schelfhout is a beautifully balanced composition even though many complicated pictorial elements are combined. Painted in 1839 when Schelfhout had already been awarded the highest possible distinction of a gold medal at the yearly Tentoonstelling van Leevende Meesters, the present lot is a very fine example of his mature painterly style. Similar to the masters of the 17th century, various elements from nature are selected and combined to create a new whole, allowing the artist to improve on nature itself. This concept, known as electio, was not widely used around the middle of the 19th century in the Netherlands and its re-introduction by Schelfhout was a significant contribution to the further development of Dutch Romantic art.

    However, Schelfhout did not aim to merely imitate the 17th century masters, but intended to interpolate a heightened atmosphere in his work in favor of directing the viewers attention to individual elements within the painting. Schelfhout succeeded in incorporating 17th Century elements and interjecting these with his own very contemporary approach.

    The careful balance of light and dark and the juxtaposition of horizontal and vertical constituents all point to a possible use of the golden section, a theory which is important to a thorough understanding of Schelfhout's work. It allowed him to create a rhythmic coherence in his paintings that is as attractive and popular today as it was in Schelfhout's time.

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    Willem Laanstra, Andreas Schelfhout, 1787-1870, Amsterdam 1995, p. 72, cat.no. W 1839-1, ill., as: Schaatsers op bevroren rivier bij ruïne.