Avercamp's relatively rare drawings often, like here, depict relatively large scale, elegant figures, enjoying in various ways the pleasures afforded by frozen waterways. Avercamp also frequently added rather decorative colouring like this to make his pen and ink drawings more pictorial. Verstraelen is, though, more or less unknown as a draughtsman: the only other drawing that has been reasonably plausibly attributed to him is a town view, bearing a later 17th-century attribution to the artist, recently sold in New York.1 The present drawing is, however, signed with initials in the lower left corner, in a form familiar from the artist's paintings, and the similarities of composition and style both with Verstraelen's paintings, and with the drawings of Avercamp, strongly suggest that this is the only substantial drawing that we have from the hand of this significant master of the Dutch ice scene. Furthermore, it seems very possible that the sketchy view in the background can be identified as Verstraelen's native Gorinchem.
1. Sale, New York, Christie's, 25 January 2007, lot 61 (as Anthonie van Stralen)
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