Barend Cornelis Koekkoek was born into a family of talented painters. His father Johannes Hermanus Koekkoek (1778-1851) was an esteemed marine painter and Barend Cornelis himself went on to gather critical acclaim for his romantic landscapes. In his view, nature equalled perfection and A great appreciation for all that nature has to offer shines through in many of his paintings. They are a poetic representation of reality, enhanced by a wondrous reflection of light. The artist considered light to be the heart and soul of life: "Beschouwt vooral de werking van het licht, want dat is de ziel van alles";"Light guides the viewer's eyes through each painting, touching upon all important aspects of the landscape and the people that inhabit it."
In the present picture, Koekkoek has deployed an array of compositional tools. In the foreground the snow-covered path is flanked by a majestic oak tree and the fortified bridge, which covers the frozen stream. This limits the depth to counterbalance the tunnel like effect created to lead the eye of the viewer to the church tower in the far distance. The light, which enters the picture pane from the left, highlights the tower, and the oak tree, creating a second axe around which the composition is carefully orchestrated. Furthermore Koekkoek has used a staged composition, with the first plan of the staffage and the sunlit architecture and the second plan the sun derived town and forest in the background.
The present lot exemplifies the 'Sehnsucht' Barend Cornelis Koekkoek strived for from 1850 onwards: a melancholic nostalgia or wistful longing that formed the core of Romanticism. In literature and the visual arts this reminiscence was expressed in motives such as far-away countries, historical subjects and typical nationalist events. The idealised representation takes the viewer to a perfect day in the most painterly season of the year.