P.F.J.J. Reelick was the first tentatively to identify Gysbrecht Leytens, then known as the Master of the Winter Landscapes, in 'Bijdrage tot Identificatie van den Meester der Winterlandschappen (G. Leytens?)', Oud Holland, 1942, LIX, pp. 74-9. His proposal was confirmed when a fully signed work was published by U. Härting in 'Der Meister der Winterlandschaften, der Maler Gysbrecht Leytens', Die Kunst, 1988, I, p. 27.
Gijsbrecht Leytens entered the workshop of the Antwerp artist Jacques Vrolyck at the early age of twelve. By 1611, he was a member of the Saint Lucas Guild and by 1617 Leytens had a number of assistants working for him. According to 17th century inventories of collections in Antwerp, it is known that Leytens collaborated with artists such as Frans Francken II, Sebastiaen Vrancx and Vincent Malo, letting them paint the figures in his compositions.
Leytens painted mainly landscapes although six marine paintings are recorded as by him, which today are lost. All known landscapes by him are winter landscapes except for one A mountainous landscape with deer in the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Brunswick.
The present lot is a characteristic work by the artist, particularly in the graphic rendition of the trees with the snow-covered branches, closing off the composition on the left, as well as the subtle depiction of the hazy atmosphere of a winter's day. Similar compositions were sold in these rooms: 7 May 1997, lot 52 and 6 November 2000, lot 62.