Winter Vreugde op den Amstel en ‘t gaan des Ysbreekers en der Waterschuiten / Divertissement de l’hyver & le depart du batiment pour casser la glace nommé Ysebreeker avec les bateaux qui vont querir de l’eau fraiche pour l’usage de la ville d’Amsterdam. Tileman / SCHENK VAN DER HORST, Petrus.
A Winter Festival & the Icebreaker of Amsterdam
Amsterdam, J. Schenk, [c. 1735].

Winter Vreugde op den Amstel en ‘t gaan des Ysbreekers en der Waterschuiten / Divertissement de l’hyver & le depart du batiment pour casser la glace nommé Ysebreeker avec les bateaux qui vont querir de l’eau fraiche pour l’usage de la ville d’Amsterdam.

3-sheet etching/engraving [91 x 61 cm the print, 116 x 88 cm outside of frame], (3) leaves joined. In a fine, antique wood frame, archival matting and u.v. glazing. Frame and engraving very well preserved, an unusually bright and crisp example.

Rare 2-sheet etching/engraving (here complete with its third sheet of engraved text in Dutch and French) depicting a winter festival celebrating the running of the “Brewers’ Icebreaker” to clear the Amstel River at Amsterdam during the first years of the 18th century. This large print, with its hundreds of lively figures, is unusual for at once being a winter genre scene, a landscape, a cityscape, and indeed a view focused on the technical marvel of the icebreaker itself. The civil engineer Tileman van der Horst had established his reputation primarily by designing and depicting machines and mechanical marvels, especially in collaboration with the publisher Schenk on the multi-volume Theatrum machinarum universale, but he here confirms a talent for more pictorial compositions in the mode of Dutch Golden Age art.

The icebreaker depicted here was built by Amsterdam’s brewers’ guild in 1696 to clear the frozen Amstel so that pure water for making beer could be shipped in from the Vecht River near Loenen, the polluted, muddy waters of the Amstel itself being unsuitable for that purpose. This massive raft, hauled with ropes by teams of horses operating from the bank, was designed to chop up the ice into manageable blocks which could then be collected for various uses by the citizens of Amsterdam. In the foreground of the print a revelry has broken out, as men, women and children of all ages frolic in a winter wonderland: Some glide by gracefully on skates, others slip down clumsily, fathers push their families on sleds, while fanciful carts and sleighs – decked out with life-size figures of lions, bears, and deer – hurry across the ice. On the opposite bank the horses toil, and onlookers marvel at the barge and their fellow townsfolk across the river.

The print was originally offered for sale separately at the premises of the Amsterdam publisher Jan Schenk and is also (very rarely) found bound in as an additional item with the six-plate De nieuwe Duyker sluys tot Lutje Schardam, of anders genaamd den Hoorn, itself a supplement to the 1736-7 volume of Tileman van der Horst and Schenk’s Theatrum machinarum universale.

* A. Van Stolk, Atlas van Stolk, vol. 5, p. 26, no. 3582; D. B. Haan, Bibliographie néerlandaise historique-scientifique, p. 279; D. Degroot, The Frigid Golden Age.

Price: $6,850.00

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