© Royal Collection Trust | Licence: All Rights Reserved
© Royal Collection Trust | Licence: All Rights Reserved

A game of 'kolf' on the ice c.1620

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From the Collection


A pen and ink and watercolour drawing of a scene on the ice, with a man on the left, watched by a peasant in a cap, about to putt a ball towards a marker. He is watched by a group of elegantly dressed figures and a dog on the right. A woman skates forward from the centre. In the background are two sleighs and a sledge drawn by caparisoned horses, and numerous skaters and walkers.

The deaf-mute Hendrick Avercamp, based in the provincial Dutch town of Kampen, was the first Netherlandish artist to specialise in paintings (and drawings) of winter scenes. Here he has drawn a game of kolf op het ijs, the winter version of kolf in which players hit a ball towards a pole; the fashionable costumes of the onlookers suggest a date of around 1620. The Royal Collection holds roughly one-third of Avercamp’s surviving drawings, many attractively finished in watercolour and probably made to be sold rather than as studies for paintings. That was no doubt the immediate purpose of the present drawing, although the figure of the man playing kolf and the sleigh in the background are to be found in a circular painting by Avercamp of a winter landscape in the Kunsthalle, Hamburg.

Michiel Plomp has identified in the Royal Collection around sixty drawings that were included in the auction of Abraham Van Broyel’s collection, held in Amsterdam on 30 October 1759 and succeeding days. These were among over a hundred Dutch and Flemish drawings acquired at the sale by the dealer Pieter Yver (1712-87), who, if not acting directly for the Prince of Wales, presumably sold the group of sixty to the Prince (or King) shortly thereafter. The present drawing was probably one of a pair by Avercamp in the van Broyel sale. Each was described as ‘A Winter scene with many figures, drawn with washes, height 5, width 8 inches’; the second drawing depicts Two ladies and a gentleman on a horse-drawn sleigh, the measurements of which correspond closely with those given in the sale catalogue.

Descriptive Medium: 'Pencil, red chalk, pen and ink and wash, watercolour and bodycolour', 'pen and ink, brown wash, red chalk, bodycolour', 'watercolour painting'

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© Royal Collection Trust

From the Watercolour World


Kampen, Overijssel, Netherlands