A New Art Historical Examination of Hendrick Avercamp's Winter Landscapes
Mentor:David Kunzle, Professor Emeritus of Art History, University of California Los Angeles
Hendrick Avercamp (1585-1635), a Dutch painter during the Dutch Golden Age known for his winter landscapes, a subject matter from which he rarely strayed, captivates the eye with his paintings that detail everyday life on frozen canals. While these landscapes are pleasing to look at, they become more than simply pretty pictures as they are viewed through the lens of the artist’s life. The reading of these paintings change once the unique circumstances of the artist’s life are revealed, specifically, the fact that Avercamp was both deaf and mute. A better understanding of Avercamp’s life is gained as one gains a better understanding of the history of the deaf in the Netherlands, through scholarly readings on the artist’s life, and visual analysis of his work. As one provides a frame of reference for his winter landscapes and re-examines them, one sees a marriage between silent, icy winter landscapes and visual sound conveyed through the life and activity Avercamp pours into the lively scenes taking place on the ice. Avercamp’s paintings are revealed to be a silent world infused with visual noise, a noise which no one can hear thus placing the viewer into Avercamp’s reality of a silent world.