Today I’m revisiting a painting, Frost Fair on the River Thames near the Temple Stairs. by Thomas Wijck (also Thomas Wijk, or Thomas Wyck; 1616–1677). He was a Dutch painter of port views and genre paintings. This painting details a moment in history, the winter of 1686-1684, as seen though the eyes of one who lived it. I first published this post in January of 2018.
About the Artist, via Wikipedia:
Wijck was born into an artist family and received his training from his father. He journeyed to Italy, presumably by 1640, the year in which a ‘Tommaso fiammingo, pittore’ (Thomas the Fleming, painter) is documented as residing in Rome in the Via della Fontanella. Although this evidence of his residence in Rome around this time has been questioned, a number of his pictures depict scenes in and around Rome which would indicate a visit to the city at some point. He also resided in the environs of Naples, where he executed many sketches which he subsequently worked up into drawings of coast views.
He went to England about the time of the Restoration and was much employed. He was followed there by his son and pupil Jan Wyck, who remained in Britain for the rest of his career and played an important role in the development of English sporting painting. Thomas Wyck was also the teacher of the Haarlem painter Jan van der Vaart, who later also immigrated to England.
He died in Haarlem in August 1677. Pieter Mulier II was a follower of his style.
What I love about this painting:
Everywhere you look you see color. Red wheels on a cart, red tents, blue tents, and yellow–color is everywhere. We sometimes think of the 17th century as a dark colorless time, but clearly it was not. People were much the same then as they are today. We love to have fun and will find a way to enjoy ourselves even in the harshest conditions.
And winters during that time were harsh. Fuel for heating and cooking was expensive, food was expensive, and many people died from the cold and starvation.
Quoted from Wikipedia: During the Great Frost of 1683–84, the worst frost recorded in England, the Thames was completely frozen for two months, with the ice reaching a thickness of 11 inches (28 cm) in London. Solid ice was reported extending for miles off the coasts of the southern North Sea (England, France and the Low Countries), causing severe problems for shipping and preventing the use of many harbours. Near Manchester, the ground was frozen to 27 inches (69 cm), in Somerset, to more than 4 feet (1.2 m).
The frieze contains an inscription that reads (two lines per slab):
Behold the Liquid Thames frozen o’re,
That lately Ships of mighty Burthen bore
The Watermen for want of Rowing Boats
Make use of Booths to get their Pence & Groats
Here you may see beef roasted on the spit
And for your money you may taste a bit
There you may print your name, tho cannot write
Cause num’d with cold: tis done with great delight
And lay it by that ages yet to come
May see what things upon the ice were done
The inscription is based on handbills, printed on the Thames during the frost fairs.
Credits and Attributions:
Wikipedia contributors, “Thomas Wijck,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Thomas_Wijck&oldid=913753600 (accessed February 7, 2020).
#FineArtFriday: Frost Fair on the River Thames near the Temple Stairs, by Thomas Wyke was first published here on Life in the Realm of Fantasy on January 20, 2018.
Wikipedia contributors, “River Thames frost fairs,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=River_Thames_frost_fairs&oldid=820904368 (accessed January 19, 2018).
Frost Fair on the River Thames near the Temple Stairs, by Thomas Wyke ca.1683-1684 via Wikimedia Commons (scan from FT magazine, 2007-09-30) [Public domain]