Skating on a Frozen River

about 1650
Barent Avercamp (Dutch, 1612 or 1613–1679)


33.7 x 45.1 cm (13 1/4 x 17 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on panel

Not On View






Falsely signed, lower right: HA (monogram)


1922, Francis Wellesley, Westfield Common, near Woking, Surrey, England; May 26, 1922, Wellesley sale, Christie's, London, lot 127, sold for £94.10 to Van Stochem [see note 1]. Arnold Simon van den Bergh (b. 1857 - d. 1932), The Hague; by descent to his daughter, Berta Louisa van den Bergh (b. 1881 - d. 1940) and her husband, Dr. Eugen Marx (b. 1879 - d. 1940), Rotterdam [see note 2]; 1940, to Hendrika Christina Floberg, Rotterdam [see note 3]; about March, 1949, sold by Hendrika Christina Floberg to Groenhuizen (dealer), Rotterdam; consigned by Groenhuizen to the firm Parry, The Hague; sold by Parry to Enneking (gallery), Arnhem; by June, 1949, sold by Enneking to Dr. Leonardus Daniël van Hengel (b. 1876 – d. 1952), Ellecom, near Arnhem, The Netherlands; May 19-21, 1953, posthumous van Hengel sale, Ellecom, lot 338, sold for 27,000 florins to a representative of the Van Hengel heirs; placed into storage at the Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij, Arnhem [see note 4]; December 11, 1956, anonymous estate sale (presumably consigned by the Van Hengel heirs), Frederik Muller, Amsterdam, lot 2A, sold for 22,000 florins. Hendrik Peter Doodeheefver (b. 1889), Hilversum, The Netherlands [see note 5]; June 24, 1959, anonymous (probably Doodeheefver) sale, Sotheby's, London, lot 76, sold for £4,200 to W. E. Duits, Ltd., London (stock no. 855); 1960, sold by Duits to Mr. and Mrs. Edward A. Taft, Boston; 1960, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Taft to the MFA. (Accession Date: September 21, 1960)

[1] Sold with a companion panel, as by H[endrick] van Avercamp, whose monogram the painting falsely bears. The two panels are documented together, as pendants, through the 1956 auction.

[2] This provenance (A. S. Van den Bergh and E. Marx collections) is given for the companion panel in Clara J. Welcker, Hendrick Avercamp 1585 - 1634 Beijgenaamd 'De Stomme van Campen' en Barent Avercamp 1612 - 1679, 'Schilders tot Campen', revised ed. with catalogue raisonné by D. J. Hensbroek-van der Poel (Davaco, 1979), p. 330, cat. no. B.A. S 5.6, and is taken from documentation on file at the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, The Hague. The provenance of the MFA painting has been confirmed by the familial descendants of Arnold Simon van den Bergh, in whose home it was photographed in the 1930s.

[3] Eugen Marx, the son-in-law of Arnold Simon van den Bergh, was a prominent Jewish ophthalmologist in Rotterdam. With the German invasion of the Netherlands, he and his wife committed suicide on May 14, 1940. At that time, this painting and its companion were taken by Hendrika Christina Floberg, an assistant to Dr. Marx in his ophthalmological practice. She attested in the 1950s that Dr. Marx had left a note giving her the "winter landscapes". Eugen and Berta Marx's heirs sought to reclaim the two Avercamp paintings in the 1950s, challenging Miss Floberg's right to take them in 1940. In 1956, it was ruled that the Marx heirs could not demonstrate that Miss Floberg had appropriated the paintings illegally, and as a result their claim was denied (also see below, note 4). Information on the painting's provenance between 1940 and 1949 was provided by the Dutch Restitutions Committee.

[4] Dr. Van Hengel lent the painting to the exhibition “Avercamp: Tentoonstelling te Kampen,” Oude Raadhuis, Kampen, July 9 - August 13, 1949. By 1952, the heirs of Eugen and Berta Marx sought unsuccessfully to re-acquire the painting and its companion from Van Hengel. In 1953, after his death, the paintings were publicly consigned for sale against the wishes of the Marx family, and were bought back by Van Hengel's heirs. Between 1954 and 1956, the Marx family pursued legal measures to recover the two paintings. In a judgment of June 15, 1956, the Restoration of Rights Court in the Hague denied the application made by the Marx family, stating that there was no proof of unlawful appropriation by Miss Floberg in 1940. The paintings remained with the Van Hengel heirs, and were auctioned again at the end of that year.

[5] According to Duits Records, Index Cards (Getty Research Institute, No. 860290, Box 37). Correspondence from Charles Duits to Angelica Rudenstine of the MFA (February 4, 1963), states that it came from the "collection Doodenhever [sic] in Holland who exhibited it at a small gallery under the name of Barent Avercamp, where we discovered it." Although the painting was consigned anonymously to the 1959 Sotheby's sale, where Duits acquired it, Doodeheefver is known to have consigned other works of art anonymously to the same auction.


After Eugen and Berta Marx took their own lives, the contents of their household were auctioned by Otto van Leersum of Amsterdam in 1941. However, by this time, the two paintings by Avercamp were already in the possession of Hendrika Christina Floberg. She had served for about eleven years as Dr. Marx's ophthalmological assistant. Information provided by the Dutch Restitutions Committee has shown that by the 1950s, Eugen and Berta Marx's heirs sought to challenge Miss Floberg's taking of the paintings in 1940, and to recover the paintings in question. They pursued their claim with the Restoration of Rights Court in the Hague. The court called on the Marx heirs to prove by witness statements that Miss Floberg had illegally appropriated the panels. Miss Floberg attested that after the death of Dr. and Mrs. Marx, she had uncovered a note giving her "the paintings, winter landscapes, and some books." Another witness, the Marxes' domestic servant, Leentje van der Steen-Groen, attested that the note "said nothing about paintings being left to Miss Floberg." The note was subsequently torn up. The court ruled on June 15, 1956, that "it has by no means gained the conviction that the paintings in question were not given to Miss Floberg as a keepsake from Dr. Marx."

This information is taken from the Dutch Restitutions Committee, Research Report, RC, MFA-1, January 23, 2015.

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edward A. Taft