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Winter Scene with Figures Playing Kolf, 1655-1660

Aert van der Neer

Dutch, 1603-1677
Oil on canvas
22-1/4 x 30-1/2 in. (56.5 x 77.5 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1972.35.P
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

Aert van der Neer, a Dutch painter who worked primarily in Amsterdam, specialized in winter scenes and moonlit landscapes. Typical of his mature paintings, this composition is organized around a central body of water, which is bordered on the left by the thatched houses of a village and on the right by a community of cottages. The figures populating the scene endure the harsh weather conditions by participating in the pleasures of seasonal entertainment. Here, several skaters glide across the frozen river while two men enjoy a hearty game of kolf, a popular antecedent of modern golf played on the ice during the winter months.

Despite the lively activity he depicts, the artist is mainly interested in conveying the winter season’s dramatic light and color effects. As such, the tinted light of the setting sun, as it is refracted by the clouds and moist atmosphere and reflects on the neutral landscape, provides the true subject of this enchanting painting.

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