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In 1827, at the age of eleven, Charles Leickert started to follow classes at the Drawing Academy in The Hague. Born in Brussels, his family had just moved to the Dutch capital of The Hague. At the academy he became friends with fellow students such as Wijnand Nuyen (1813-1839), Antonie Waldorp (1803-1866), Salomon Verveer (1813-1876) and Johannes Franciscus Hoppenbrouwers (1819-1866). His most important tutor at the academy was the celebrated townscape painter Bartholomeus Johannes van Hove (1790-1880) who instructed him on the fundamental principles of the academic tradition, focusing on the rendering of line and chiaroscuro after plaster casts. Despite the death of his father and the resulting shortage of funds, Leickert's mother insisted that her son continued his education and convinced the board of the academy that the young Charles deserved a scholarship for drawing lessons.
Once the talented Nuyen opened his own atelier in 1833, Leickert left the academy and joined his friend's new studio. Following Nuyen's untimely death in 1839 Leickert moved to the studio of Nuyen's tutor Andreas Schelfhout (1787-1870). This renowned landscape painter had great influence on the young Leickert, who made rapid progress and became one of Schelfhout's most prominent pupils. In a review of an exhibition held in 1844 it was noted that Leickert followed in the footsteps of his much-admired teacher. An art critic wrote: '... Mr C. Leickert, of The Hague, demonstrates with his winter scene [...] that he has turned the lessons of his master to good use...'.
Leickert would specialize in winter landscapes, the genre that had made his teacher famous. His other subjects were realistic landscapes and cityscapes in which figures were subservient to the landscape. In 1847 he was present at the founding of the Pulchri Studio in The Hague and he became a regular member of the artist's society 'Arti et Amicitiae' in Amsterdam. From 1848 onwards Leickert settled in Amsterdam, moving to the German city of Mainz in 1887.
The present monumental painting was painted in 1892 and is an outstanding example of Leickert's mature painterly style. On the frozen water villagers are engaged in daily activities. Some are skating whilst others are using the ice to transport goods. A house with a snow covered step gable stands on the right of the painting, forming a vertical compositional element which is echoed in the windmills and the mast of the small boat stuck in the ice. The sheet of ice is executed with remarkable precision: subtle reflections, a deep transparency and individual scratches left by skates and sledges characterize the present lot. A large sky made up of numerous pink, blue and grey tones holds clouds amongst which light is allowed to play. The dramatic lighting permits the snow to become almost luminescent, accentuating the coldness of this beautiful day in winter.