Thursday, 19 December 2013

Fun on the Ice

It's chilly up here in the garret today but not half as chilly as some of my American friends are getting it just now. I notice a great deal of snow and ice appearing on posts from the other side of The Pond. It seems a good idea then to start yesterday's sightings with two Wintery paintings I saw in Edinburgh.

There are quite a lot of Dutch paintings that seem to have an awful lot going on in them. You can stand in front of them for ages and find something new. This one by Henrdrick Avercamp is no exception. He seemed to paint a lot of pictures of a cold nature. This one is called Winter Landscape and was painted between 1610 and 1620 according to the gallery though the BBC say it was 1630.

It's not a very big picture, a little under a foot tall and not much more than a foot wide so some of the details below are probably bigger than the original. When I first saw this I though these chaps were playing ice hockey but on second thoughts they are playing golf with the chaps in the next picture. Actually it's more likely that they were playing a game that was similar and sounded similar to golf, called Kolf.

 The information says that the Dutch had a word for this kind of activity called Ijsvermaak, which literally means pleasure on ice. The lady in the next picture is probably not thinking it so pleasant at this moment as she seems to have come a cropper, nor does that fellow sitting on the edge of his boat - I think he would rather be out boating than skating.

 For those who would rather be on the land, there's a good roaring fire to be had and, if I'm not mistaken, there appears to be a pub sign outside the next building. I can see it doing some good trade once the ijsvermaak is over.

Meanwhile, over here in Scotland, there is much ijsvermaak to be had in the roaring game. I say meanwhile but this picture was painted 200 years after the Dutch fun in 1835 by George Harvey and simply called The Curlers.

The scene depicts an interparish curling match and even a local dog is getting in on the game

Most of the players, including this fellow casting the stone are wearing metal grips strapped to their feet to stop them from falling over.

This painting did very well with the popularity of the game with many prints of an engraving of it being sold and individual features of the painting were often used for curling medals.

At this point in the blog, I was just about to leap forward nearly another 200 years for some ijvermaak in Princes Street gardens where every year of late an outside ice rink has been set up. Actually Edinburgh's Winter Wonderland seems to have grown enormously this year with all sorts of new amusement to terrify you being set up and temporary bars to calm your nerves afterwards. I was just about to take a picture of the ice rink when a No 16 bus came round the corner and the ice rink picture lost in the balance between that and a twenty minute wait for the next bus so I ran after it. Here are a few ice free pictures of the rest of the Edinburgh celebrations that I snapped over the last couple of days instead.


Shundo said...

Does look like a lot of fun - I think the Dutch were all about pride in all aspects of civic society; this is kind of a counterpoint to the more stately church interiors.
I do have a lingering wish there would be more frost fairs on the Thames, but I guess it won't happen even with climate change, unless the current gets slowed down again by something like the old bridge arches used to do.

The Glebe Blog said...

Great posts Sandy. I remember many winter season on the ice as a boy growing up in Fife, we must have had more cold winters then. Mind you November, December 2010 we had it all again.
Ijsvermaak, - just wondered how this might be pronounced. I found two audio translation, the first from an English sounding woman who said IceVermerack, and the second from a Dutch sounding lady who's probably more correct in IceVermack, seems to be a rare word.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

In former times there used to be much fun on the ice out in the Fens of Cambridgeshire. Global warming has largely put and end to such frolics.

Dominic Rivron said...

That picture was painted in "the Little Ice Age" - when the Thames was known to freeze over, too. It's bad enough with modern technology to keep us warm - winters during that cold "blip" must have been pretty miserable.

If that picture is anything to go by people who could got on with it and enjoyed themselves as much as possible.

Sandy's witterings said...

Indeed Shundo, at this time Dutch painting does seem to reflect real life, with quite a dollop of humour, rather than portraits, religion or the classics that was going on in the rest of Europe. Seems like 17th century Holland was quite a fun place to be.

Jim, only once in my childhood did the river freeze enough to safely get on in Langholm. The east coast is a little bit colder mind.
Thanks for your expansion on ijsvermaak (it does make a little more sense of it)

John, it seems in olden days there was more ice everywhere. Global warming is such an old spoil sport!

Dominic, I think the little ice age was responsible for the Thames frost fairs that Shundo mentioned in his comment. Lots of fun in winter - probably not so much fun in June when you're trying to get a little warmth to grow crops with.

Michaela Breen said...

Love those pictures a lot!

Sandy's witterings said...

Thanks Michaela