Frederik Marinus Kruseman stemmed from an important family of artists, whose members include both the history painter Cornelis Kruseman (1797-1857) and the portrait painter Jan Adam Kruseman Jansz. (1804-1862). This cultural heritage was the driving force behind his artistic career. Kruseman started as an apprentice to the respected still-life painter Jan Reekers (1790-1858). Kruseman's parents entrusted Reekers with their son because Reekers had had a guiding hand in the tutelage of Kruseman's cousin Jan Adam, who at that time had been appointed Director of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam. After Reekers, Kruseman was apprenticed with Andreas Schelfhout's son-in-law, Nicolaas Roosenboom (1805-1880). Although the natural world and the practice of landscape painting played a central role in Kruseman's formation and style, his focus on winter scenes can be credited to his second tutor.
Attracted to the rural landscape in the vicinity of Hilversum, the artist moved there for the duration of a year in 1835. There he met Jan van Ravenswaaij (1789-1869) who taught him a great deal about the staffage of his paintings with animals. After his stay in Hilversum, Kruseman returned to Haarlem, only to leave shortly afterwards on a journey to Cleves, where the famous Dutch landscape painter Barend Cornelis Koekkoek (1803-1862) had settled in 1834. When quizzed by the art historian J. Immerzeel, Jr., then compiling his work on Dutch and Flemish masters, Kruseman listed Koekkoek as one of his masters, despite the fact that officially Koekkoek was not accepting any pupils at that time. With Koekkoek, Kruseman mentioned Reekers and Roosenboom. It would only have been possible to be an official apprentice of Koekkoek's after 1841, the year in which his Academy of Painting was founded.
However, the fact that B.C. Koekkoek is mentioned in Kruseman's list of masters does justice to the unmistakable influence the artist had on Kruseman's work. His consistently fine treatment of the subject at hand, and his seemingly effortless technique, can only have been the result of close proximity to the Prince of Dutch romantic landscape painting.
The present painting is a fine example of a winter landscape. Every small group of figures tells a story of its own. The three men endeavouring to haul a log from the ice, the two women conversing whilst gathering twigs, the man and his dog coming out of a side track or the man on horseback and his companion travelling into the distance all serve to make this composition appealing in its narration and harmonious in its rendition.