Old Master Paintings, Drawings, and British Portraits


LUDOLF BACKHUYSEN (Emden 1630 – Amsterdam 1708)

A Winter Landscape with Sleighs, Skaters and Golfers on a Frozen Lake

signed L Bak in the lower left

oil on canvas

20 1/8 x 26 1/16 inches          (51.4 x 66.3 cm.)


J.G. Cramer, Amsterdam

J.G. Cramer sale, Cok, Amsterdam, November 13, 1769, lot 3

A.J. Essingh

A.J. Essingh sale, J.M. Heberle, Cologne, September 18, 1865, lot 147

Anonymous sale, J.M. Heberle, Cologne, December 9, 1892, lot 2

Sir Hugh Chance, Birlingham, Worcester (from a label now lost when sold at Sotheby’s in 1997)

Julius Singer, London, by 1948

Anonymous sale, Sotheby’s, London, April 16, 1997, lot 138, where acquired by the present owner



C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century, Volume VII, Esslingen/Paris, 1918, p. 317, no. 479


Winter landscapes by Ludolf Backhuysen are extremely rare. In this painting the overall silvery-grey tonality of the ice under an expansive sky lined with ominous dark clouds accented by a chilled populace, presents a true depiction of Holland in winter. It is a later work in the artist’s oeuvre, a period in which his “compositions became more daring” and the “atmosphere more dramatic”. [1] 

Ludolf Backhuysen began his career in 1649 working as a calligrapher for the Bartolotti trading house in Amsterdam. According to Arnold Houbraken he learned to paint from the marine artists Hendrick Jacobsz. Dubbels and Allaert van Everdingen. [2] He did not join the Amsterdam painter’s guild until 1663, but shortly thereafter his fame as a marine painter was established. When Willem van de Velde I and II moved to England in 1672, Backhuysen became the leading marine painter in The Netherlands. Important commissions followed. Houbraken recorded that Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany; Frederick I of Prussia, Elector of Saxony; and Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia all visited his studio. Within his paintings, Backhuysen emphasized “the perpetually changing climate and the magnificent skies of The Netherlands. Much of his work, moreover, glorified Amsterdam and the mercantile trade that made it great.” [3]

His students included Pieter Coopse, Jan Dubbels, Michiel Maddersteeg, Onno Onnesz., Gerrit Pompe, Jan Claesz. Rietschoof and Abraham Storck. [4] The number of museums that incorporated his paintings into their permanent collections is remarkable. They include the museums of Amsterdam; Antwerp, Apeldoorn, Berlin, Boston, Braunschweig, Bremen, Brussels, Bucharest, Chantilly, Cleveland, Cologne, Copenhagen, Dresden, Dublin; Dulwich; Geneva; The Hague; Hamburg; Hartford; Heidelberg; Houston; Hull, England; Indianapolis; Karlsruhe; Leipzig, Lille; London; Manchester, England; Manchester, New Hampshire; Minneapolis; Moscow, Munich; Oberschleissheim; Paris; Riga; Rotterdam; Schwerin; Sheek; Stuttgart; Toledo, Ohio; Vienna; Washington, D.C.; Weimar; and Winterthur, Switzerland.

[1] B.P.J. Broos, “Ludolf Bakhuizen” in From Rembrandt to Vermeer, 17th-century Dutch Artists, Grove Art, New York, 2000, p. 13.

[2] Arnold Houbraken compiled from 1718 – 1721 the first comprehensive survey of Dutch painting from the Golden Age in De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche Konstschilders en schilderessen.

[3] Biographical information taken from B.P.J Broos “Ludolf Backhuizen” in The Grove Dictionary of Art, From Rembrandt to Vermeer, op.cit., pp.. 12 – 13; and “Ludolf Bakhuizen” on (RKD Explore) website.

[4] “Ludolf Backhuizen” on, op.cit..

Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts

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