Frederik Marinus Kruseman was born into a renowned family of artists. He had two well-known cousins, Cornelis Kruseman (1797-1857) (see lot 170) and Jan Adam Kruseman Jansz. (1804-1862). Contrary to his cousins, for Frederik Marinus nature and the many facets of landscape painting played the central role.
There is little known about Kruseman's youth and schooling, but his career as an artist started with an apprenticeship with the respected still life painter Jan Reekers (1790-1858). His parents had entrusted him with this task as Reekers 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. Subsequently he apprenticed with Andreas Schelfhout's son-in-law, Nicolaas Roosenboom (1805-1880). Kruseman's interest in landscape painting, and especially winter scenes, was primarily the work of his new tutor. The apprenticeship ended in 1835, as Roosenboom left for a long journey through Scotland and Devonshire.
After returning to Haarlem, Kruseman left to Cleves (Germany) in 1841, where the famous Dutch landscape painter Barend Cornelis Koekkoek (1803-1862) had settled in 1834. When Kruseman was asked by the art historian J. Immerzeel Jr., who was compiling his work on Dutch and Flemish masters, he lists Reekers, Roosenboom, Leickert and Koekkoek as his masters, although Koekkoek was not accepting any pupils at the time of Kruseman's visit to Cleves. It would only have been possible to be an official apprentice after 1841, the year in which Koekkoeks Academy of Painting was founded. However, the fact that Barend Cornelis Koekkoek is mentioned in his list of masters does justice to the unmistakable influence the artist had on Kruseman's work. The fine treatment of his subject and seemingly effortless technique can only have been the result of close proximity to the Prince of Dutch Romantic landscape painting.
Painted in 1859 the present lot is a fine example of a winter landscape executed with the highest degree of virtuosity. The artist had settled back in Brussels but unmistakably was still highly under the influence of the time spent in Cleves. It is a given fact that Kruseman, at this point, repeatedly returned to old themes. This did not lead to dull or lusterless work, but in fact many of the works from this period belong to the best he ever did.
A winter landscape with skaters near a castle displays Kruseman's acute sense of observation and his mastery of form and composition. The crisp white snow, the delightful figures, the excellent representation of masonry and the breathless atmosphere are all held together by a carefully selected pallet and well engineered composition. The present lot is testament to an artist who was a key figure in the tradition of Dutch Romantic art.