On January 2 1794 Hendrikus van de Sande Bakhuyzen was born in the Hague into a well to do family. His father owned a book and printshop that was located in the Ridderzaal on the Binnenhof in the Hague. As he grew up Hendrikus Bahuyzen showed a talent for drawing. He was very interested in nature and could often be found in the woods that surrounded The Hague at that time. At the age of fourteen his parents recognised his talents but in the first quarter of the 19th century it was not easy to find a good tutor in The Hague who could improve the skills of the talented young man. His first teachers were J.Heijmans (1757-after 1810) and S.A. Krausz (1760-1825). In 1819 Hendrikus added his mother's name van de Sande to his surname and as of this date he signed his works with 'H.v.d.S. Bakhuyzen'. In 1825 Hendrikus married Sophia Wilhelmine Khiel, whose father occupied a high position at the Royal court. The family was blessed with seven children amongst which were the famous paintress of flower still lives Gerardina Jacoba van de Sande Bakhuyzen (1826-1895) (see lot 47A and lot 191) and Julius Jacobus van de Sande Bakhuyzen (1835-1925) the Hague School painter.
Hendrikus van de Sande Bakhuyzen is best known for his large paintings of cattle in summerlandscapes which were very popular in his time. The popularity of this genre may have something to do with the return to Holland of the famous seventeenth century painting of a Bull by Paulus Potter (now in the Mauritshuis, The Hague) that was taken to France as spoils of war and stayed in the Louvre until the definite defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. The painting returned to Holland in triumph and became a symbol of the new born state. Van de Sande Bakhuyzen designed the frontcover for the catalogue of the Royal Collection in which the retrieved 'The Bull' by Potter was included. As his inspiration he took a detail of this painting.
Although van de Sande Bakhuyzen is best known for his summer landscapes with cattle he also painted some very beautiful winter landscapes. Van de Sande Bakhuyzen was befriended with perhaps the most famous Dutch painter of winter landscapes, Andreas Schelfhout (1787-1870). At some stage they even painted together.
The present lot is certainly amongst the most impressive of his winterlandscapes. Not only is it the largest canvas known presently known depicting a winterlandscape (81x110 cm) by his hand. It is also one of the most detailed ones. In the architecture he shows the exact location of the scene, namely the harbour of Dordrecht, a popular subject with Dutch painters throughout the ages. In the harbour he painted moored barges that are confined within the frozen waters of the Maas. Every single piece of equipement, every stich in the sails on these barges is made visible. On the ice surface numerous figures are skating and in the foreground the ever present large chunks of ice are visible, by which the painter showed his power in creating the illusion of translucentness. By these overpowering details, one can be certain that the painter must have done a lot of research on location thus giving a very realistic impression of the Dordrecht harbour in those days.