Born and trained in Amsterdam, Hendrick Avercamp became the first Northern Netherlandish artist to specialize in drawn and painted winter landscapes. By doing so, he built on a tradition which already flourished in the Southern Netherlands where artists such as Hans Bol, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and David Vinckboons had developed the genre. Avercamp’s drawn œuvre can roughly be divided into two types of drawing, the first being that of quick sketches of figures drawn from life. Drawings like these could be used, and were often re-used, in the artist's paintings and more finished drawings (see M. Schapelhouman, 'The Drawings. Reflections on an Œuvre', in Hendrick Avercamp. Master of the Ice Scene, exhib. cat., Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, 2009, pp. 102-110).
In contrast to these sheets, which were kept in albums in the artist's studio and not intended to be sold, Avercamp produced highly finished landscape drawings for the market. The finished quality of the present composition suggests it falls in that category and that Avercamp executed it as a work of art in its own right. As with many of his landscape drawings the composition is cleverly built up around two repoussoirs; a paalhuis (a building on poles which often served as an office to collect tax) to the left and two figures seen from the back to the right. In between a group of men and women is drawing a sled with a barrel. The scene is set against the backdrop of a frozen river landscape with a town beyond, while a flock of birds flies above, serving as a perspective device. By comparison with most of Avercamp's landscape drawings, the execution of the drawing is rather bold, expressive and quick. Nathalie Strasser has suggested that this, together with its spare use of watercolour, could indicate that the drawing is unfinished (see Literature).