LAWRENCE STEIGRAD FINE ARTS

Old Master Paintings, Drawings, and British Portraits

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FREDRIK MARINUS KRUSEMAN (Haarlem 1816 – Sint Gillis 1882) 

A Winter Landscape with Skaters on a Frozen River

signed FMKruseman with the initials conjoined and dated 1862 fe in the lower right

oil on canvas

27 ½ x 39 ½ inches          (70 x 100.4 cm.)


PROVENANCE

MacConnal-Mason Gallery, London, from whom acquired by

Private Collection, Maryland, circa 1985, until the present time

 

The facts known about the life of Fredrik Marinus Kruseman are few. He began his studies with Jan Reekers, and by attending the City Drawing School of Haarlem. He continued his training with Nicolaus Johannes Roosenboom, Jan van Ravenswaaij, and Barend Cornelis Koekkoek. He made his debut at the Living Artists Exhibition in The Hague in 1833. That same year, he worked in Hilversum, and in 1837, in Cleves. He traveled to Belgium, Germany, and France, settling in Brussels in 1845. From 1852–1856, he lived outside Haarlem, but in 1856 returned to Brussels for good. Although he did a few still lifes, he mainly painted landscapes, of which about two-thirds are snow scenes.[1]

Yet the most startling revelation regarding Kruseman is to be found in his catalogue raisonné. “Barely recognized during his lifetime, Frederik Marinus Kruseman died in complete obscurity, as if he had never existed. What remains of his artistic legacy, his glowing landscapes assure that he will never be forgotten. Judging from the rare bits of information that the research into the life of Frederik Marinus Kruseman revealed, the artist appears to have been an outsider or, at the very least, a loner.”[2]

It is with this in mind, and upon reflection of the spectacular panorama presented to the viewer by A Winter Landscape with Skaters on a Frozen River, that such a life choice becomes comprehensible. The creation of such transcendent beauty, as displayed by this work, would have required an intense concentration and devotion. We as viewers are the lucky recipients of such a legacy.

In pristine condition and dating from Kruseman’s prime period of the 1860s, this dazzling ice tableau enshrines the period’s Romantic celebration and glorification of nature.[3] From a high vantage point, a vast sky dominates a panoramic scene of a frozen waterway populated by skaters, bordered on either side by snow-covered banks. Coupled with a low horizon line, the scene appears endless. The color scheme is dominated by a cool blue-gray tonality over the black, mirror-like surface of the ice. From the fallen skater in the left foreground to the romantic young couple accompanied by a frolicking dog precariously close to a wide crack in the ice at the center, and modest refreshment table on the right; the artist has taken obvious delight in the chronicling of these vignettes. Such additional details as the frozen sailboat and more elaborate koek en zopie[4] of the mid-ground, to the abandoned broom atop the stairs of an ancient abode, tumbling shed, precarious sloping path and rail down to the ice, along with the flock of birds perched in the coral-like tree branches, all serve to further enhance the scene. Kruseman has neatly provided an entry into the scene via the snow-covered road in the right foreground. Once arrived, viewers enter another world whose perfection cannot be easily left behind.

His works can be found in the museums of Amsterdam, Brussels, Cleves, Courtrai, Haarlem, The Hague, Hamburg, Leipzig, Maidstone, and Nijmegen.

 

 

[1] Marjan van Heteren and Jan de Meere, Fredrik Marinus Kruseman, 1816–1882: painter of pleasing landscapes, Scriptum Signature, Schiedam, c. 1998, pp. 103, 114.

[2] Ibid, p. 103.

[3] Ibid, p. 103.

[4] A koek en zopie is a stall with roots in the seventeenth century, but still found today set up for the selling of cake and drink on the ice. Zopie was made from bock beer and rum with eggs, cinnamon, and cloves, served hot

Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts

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