Gerrit van Battem
Heavy, opaque bodycolor effectively conveys the accretion of snow on the rooftops and riverbank, the dripping icicles in the trees, and the wintry cloud cover. The bodycolor's weight and solidity harmonizes with the muted brown and gray color scheme. Subtly but effectively, Gerrit Battem also added the slightest touches of vivid blue and red to animate the scene.
Figures on a Frozen Canal belongs to a group of whimsical winter cityscapes that Battem made as independent works of art. The luminous bodycolor he chose to use may signal that he intended these drawings to resemble oil paintings.
Winter landscapes with peasants had been a fixture of Netherlandish art since the time of Pieter Bruegel the Elder in the 1500s. In the early 1600s, Hendrik Avercamp continued and enlivened the tradition, packing his paintings with incidental detail and brightly colored costumes. Like his predecessor, Battem filled his scene with fun and anecdote as well as fanciful architecture and expressive, skeletonlike trees. Medium: pen and dark brown ink, watercolour and gouache.
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