Andreas Schelfhout enjoyed an enormous reputation as a painter of landscapes. He was especially renowned as the painter 'par excellence' of winter scenes, excelling in the detailled expression of translucent ice and powdery snow. His expressions of winter life were his most sought-after subjects. But he was also internationally acclaimed for his elegant beach scenes and sweeping panoramic summer landscapes. In the 19th Century Schelfhout was one of the first painters who reinvented the Dutch coastal and beach scenes, what led to the renewal of the appreciation of this genre. From 1824 onwards he frequently painted the coast of Scheveningen, where fishermen and a few years later ‘flaneurs’ played an important role in his paintings and would continue painting beach scenes his entire life. His interest for the coastal scenes rooted from the 17th century marines in the Royal Collection of The Hague and works of contemporary French, German and English painters, such as John Constable (1776-1837), Eugène Isabey (1803-1886) and Théodore Gudin (1802-1880). It has been suggested that Schelfhout adopted a warmer colorite, a looser brushstroke and new motives due to these international influences.
Schelfhout was born in The Hague in 1787 and up until the age of twenty-four he worked for his father, Jean Baptiste Schelfhout, a gilder and framemaker from Ghent. His father recognized his artistic gifts and the young Andreas made his début at the 1811 Living Artists Exhibition in The Hague. For four years he became an apprentice of the stage designer Johannes Breckenheimer (1772-1856), who encouraged him to sketch both from the Old Masters and the picturesque surrounding countryside. In the early 1800's he began to exhibit the winter landscapes that won him the greatest critical acclaim, marking the beginning of a long and successful career. His works were accepted at many of the Living Artists Exhibitions held throughout the Low Countries. His work also attracted attention when he exhibited in Belgium at the Antwerp and Brussels Salons. He was well-known in Belgium through frequent correspondence with the secretary of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. His Gelderland landscape at sunset seen from a height in the vicinity of Oosterbeek was awarded a Gold Medal at the Antwerp Salon of 1819. Andreas Schelfhout visited Paris in 1830 and was a member of the Pulchri Studio in The Hague. Schelfhout also had an important impact as a teacher of the next generation of artists. Among his most important pupils were Charles Henri Joseph Leickert (1816-1907), Nicholaas Johannes Roosenboom (1805-1880) and Willem Troost (1812-1893.) He also exerted an important influence on Johan Barthold Jongkind (1819-1891), one of the major forerunners of the Impressionists.
The artist's paintings from before 1830 show a certain rigidity but after 1835-40 the artist's style and technique come to full maturity, as is visible in the present lot. From 1830 onwards, his brushwork increasingly loosened up, and around 1840 his artistic style and technique had come to full maturity. The perfect balance of composition, play of light, and extraordinary spatial depth and detailing are considered to be exemplary of the pinnacle of the Dutch Romanticism and Schelfhout mastered this skill perfectly. The discreet balance of the horizontal and vertical elements in the composition demonstrates the accurate layering that Schelfhout incorporated in the present lot. Schelfhout’s skills in capturing atmospheric effects is dramatically illustrated in the gathering grey clouds, reflected in the surface of the salty water on the beach and the grey Northsea on the horizon. The extraordinary beauty of Schelfhout skies which earned him the nickname the ‘Dutch Claude Lorrain’ at an early age. The heavy contrast between the white sails and the heavy Bomschuiten create a lively atmosphere. The present lot is an excellent example of Schelfhout's unsurpassed virtuosity. It shows an impressive, true-to-life rendering of a Dutch beach scene with numerous fisherfolk on the beach.