Klaes Molenaer's Winter landscape with skaters is a fine example of the winter landscape genre, as popularized by better-known artists such as Isack van Ostade and Salomon van Ruysdael. Set against a row of thatched-roof cottages, colorful figures go about their daily business, tending to their horses or lacing up skates to travel or transport wares across the frozen canal. In the foreground, a young boy propels himself across the ice on a wooden crate, adding a humorous touch to the scene.
Born in Haarlem in 1630, Klaes Molenaer was the nephew of the better known genre painter Jan Miense Molenaer, with whom he may have worked on occasion. Molenaer's winter scenes and those of his contemporaries follow in the tradition begun by Hendrick Avercamp, whose earliest dated works are from 1608. Though Avercamp favored a higher horizon than painters working later in the century, those elements characteristic of the genre - frozen canals, leafless trees, snowy cottages and the active, colorful skaters who populate the scenes - remain.
We are grateful to Dennis Weller for confirming the attribution to Klaes Molenaer from a color transparency (written communication, 24 August 2005).