Andreas Schelfhout was one of the most applauded landscapists of his time, universally admired for his brilliant winter scenes. Building on a grand tradition that blossomed in the 17th century, Schelfhout acquired international fame with his superb brushwork, perfectly balanced compositions and masterful depiction of sky and ice. It earned him the nickname of 'the Dutch Claude Lorrain'. The art critic of the Kunstkronijk (1852) was so impressed by the tranquil poetry of Schelfhout's winter scenes that he exclaimed in sheer admiration: 'one could not paint more exquisitely'. Up to this day, Schelfhout's supremacy as a painter of landscapes remains unchallenged.
Schelfhout belongs to the Romantic movement. He became one of the most influential Dutch landscape artists of his century and he provided training to several painters who would become famous in their own right : Johan Hendrik Weissenbruch, Johan Jongkind (one of the forerunners of the Impressionists), Charles Leickert, Johannes Josephus Destree, Jan Willem van Borselen, Nicholas Roosenboom, Willem Troost, the American Hudson River School Painter Louis Rémy Mignot and his son-in-law Wijnand Nuyen. His death marked the end of the Romantic period in Holland. He is considered a precursor of the Hague School.
Schelfhout was the son of a gilder and framemaker from Gent. Up to the age of 24 he worked in his father's business, after which he studied with Johannes Breckenheimer, with whom he stayed for four years. This being the only formal education he got, Schelfhout took great pride in seeing himself as self-taught, 'nature' being his only teacher. Schelfhout's unique talent surfaced for the first time at the exhibition of 'Living Masters' in Amsterdam (1818), where his winter landscapes received much critical acclaim. It marked the beginning of an immensely successful career.
His paintings are on display in several museums a.o. : Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam; National Gallery, London; The Wallace Collection, London
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