Literature: Marjan van Heteren and Jan de Meere, Frederik Marinus Kruseman 1816-1882, Painter of Pleasing Landscapes, catalogue 113, pp 182, (illustrated.)
Born into the well-established family of artists in Haarlem, Frederik Marinus Kruseman showed an interest and talent for drawing from a very early age. Studying under a succession of important masters, including Jan Reekers (1790-1858) and Nicolaas Roosenboom (1805-1880), Kruseman acquired a solid knowledge in drawing and landscape painting, even before reaching the age of twenty. In 1837, he entered the studio of Barend Cornelis Koekkoek (1803-1862), in the town of Kleves, in Germany. Under this direction, Krusemans landscapes were filled with elements of the Romantic movement, of which Koekkoek had become one of the most prominent exponents. Kruseman began exhibiting his own work in 1838, in Haarlem first and with immediate success. In 1841, he moved to Brussels, by now the prosperous capital of the young monarchical state of Belgium. Although Kruseman continued to live in different places, moving extensively within Haarlem as well as Brussels, the Belgian capital remained his principal port of call. For a period of four years, between 1852 and 1856, Kruseman moved back to his native Haarlem. The proximity of this city to Amsterdam allowed him to undertake a number of short visits to the Rijskmuseum, where he could develop his historical knowledge of Dutch art and study the works of Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/29-1682) and Meindert Hobbema (1638-1709), among other seventeenth-century masters of landscape painting. The present view of A Castle in a winter landscape displays the essence of Krusemans understanding of his artistic heritage, his ability to compose and feel for colour. Following the market demand for capriccio landscapes in the Romantic taste, Kruseman began his own interpretations of nature, composing views from real and imaginary creations. Our painting shows Krusemans skill at creating a quiet equilibrium between elements of Natures enduring presence - river, trees and the recurring season of winter - and elements of fleeting existence the castle and background edifices. Technically, Kruseman recurs to the device of lowering the line of the horizon in order to increase the dramatic distinction between the different planes dividing the pictorial space. Finally, with the figures introducing an element of human activity, Kruseman creates a scene of conviviality between man and Nature.