Abel Grimmer (Antwerp c. 1570-1618/19)
PROPERTY OF A LADY OF TITLE
Abel Grimmer (Antwerp c. 1570-1618/19)

A winter landscape with ice skaters before the Gate of Saint George, Antwerp

Details
Abel Grimmer (Antwerp c. 1570-1618/19)
A winter landscape with ice skaters before the Gate of Saint George, Antwerp
signed and dated 'ABEL GRIMMER FECIT. 1615' (lower right)
oil on panel
17 ½ x 18 1/8 in. (44.5 x 46 cm.)
Provenance
Private collection, Belgium, by 1991.
Literature
R. de Bertier de Sauvigny, Jacob et Abel Grimmer: Catalogue Raisonné, Brussels, 1991, p. 237, no. LXXIV.

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Nikki van Beukering
Nikki van Beukering

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Lot Essay

Heavily influenced by the work of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Grimmer based his depiction of the frozen canals before the Gate of Saint George of Antwerp on a drawing by Bruegel (now in a Private collection), which was popularised in an engraving by Frans Huys in circa 1558, and published shortly afterwards by Hieronymus Cock. The Gate of Saint George was one of the most important entrance gates in the city's walls, which were finished just a decade before Bruegel’s drawing. During this time, winters became much colder, leading to the period known as the ‘little ice age’.

With characteristic wit, the lively composition depicts townsfolk skating, walking and enjoying themselves on the frozen surface of the canals surrounding Antwerp, with several comic elements included, such as the figure who has tripped and fallen on the ice at the left, or another who has fallen through the ice in the background. As is so often the case with such depictions, a moralistic element underlies the scene, with the figures ice skating possibly referring to the motto of ‘slibberachticheyt van ’s menschen leven’ or ‘the slipperiness of human life’.

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