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Life imitates art or art imitates life? Winter scene brings to mind centuries-old paintings

Fabian Bimmer / Reuters

People walk on the frozen outer Alster lake on a freezing cold day in Hamburg, Germany, Feb. 12. For the first time in 15 years, thousands of people took to the frozen artificial lake to celebrate winter, after local authorities granted permission for festivities to take place on the frozen surface. The worst February cold spell Europe has seen in decades may last until the end of the month, leading meteorologists said.

Upon seeing the image of the frozen lake today, I was reminded of the work of Hendrick Avercamp, who painted a number of winter pictures, one of which is seen below. 

Hendrick Avercamp / nga.gov

'Winter Scene on a Frozen Canal' c. 1620, oil on panel. Avercamp based his figures on studies he made from life; he then replicated and recombined them in different ways in his paintings. The woman wearing a mask in the foreground at right reappears in 'Skaters and Tents along the Ice'.

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