Joost Cornelisz. Droochsloot
Skaters on the City Moat, 1622
Oil on wood / 34 x 68.5 cm
Signed on lower left: JC (ligated) fec 1622
Inv. no. D1351 / Dr. Clemens Sels Collection
The Dutch artists of the 17th century are viewed as the inventors of landscape painting. In contrast to their characteristically warm and dark tones, the color palette in the work by Joost Cornelisz Droochsloot is considerably lighter, evoking the chill of a winter day. The winter landscape was a recurring theme in Dutch painting. Depictions of ice skaters were especially popular examples of this genre, as can be seen in the painting by Klaes Molenaer. Despite the exuberant atmosphere of Droochsloot's painting, it also reminds the viewers of the consequences of winter and cold. Landscape painting of the time was intended not only to amuse, but to instruct. In his choice of pictorial motif, James Ensor also placed himself in the tradition of 17th century Dutch painting. His work is characterized by his typically ironic-sarcastic distortion of the narrative. The cheerful mood and behavior of the skaters become a biting commentary. In the left foreground, the masks that are a recurring feature in Ensor's work function as observers that make the human behavior seem even stranger than the masks themselves.