Skip to Content
We look slightly down onto a scene showing light-skinned men, women, and children ice skating on a frozen river in this horizontal landscape painting. We get the impression of hundreds of people gathered on the ice creating a crowd that extends into the hazy distance. The couple dozen closest to us are the most defined. A few clusters of people and individuals in particular draw our attention. For example, a group of three men wearing dark cloaks and hats stand in conversation on our right. Two boys nearby hold sticks and play a game similar to hockey. A small child holds two smaller sticks, perhaps to help balance. A man in the front center wears puffy scarlet-red pants with white stockings, a red jacket, and a tall brown hat with a cloud of scarlet feathers. He stands next to a woman wearing a black hooded cloak over a black skirt and raspberry-pink bodice. She tucks her hands into a cylindrical muffler held at her waist. Another elegantly dressed man in golden yellows and black and a woman in mauve pink and butter yellow stand nearby. Some of people throughout the scene wear white frilly collars and others are more simply dressed in shades of brown, gray, and black. To our right, a faded rose-red windmill stands at the river’s edge, and to our left a large house with steeply pitched and stepped roofs is enclosed within a solid fence painted with pink diamonds against black and white. Smoke rises from one chimney, and other houses and a church line the riverbank into the distance. A wooden bridge near a grove of bare trees connects spit of land near us in the lower left corner with the village beyond. Brilliant azure-blue sky is visible through breaks in the steel-gray clouds above.

Adam van Breen, Skating on the Frozen Amstel River, 1611, oil on panel, The Lee and Juliet Folger Fund, in honor of Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., 2010.20.1

The Art of Looking

Adam van Breen, Skating on the Frozen Amstel River

  • Friday, December 16, 2022
  • 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Registration Required
  • Virtual Program

In the spirit of the winter season, Adam van Breen's Skating on the Frozen Amstel River is the inspiration for this interactive conversation. Join us and share your observations, interpretations, questions, and ideas, and build on your own first impressions to broaden your understanding of this work of art.

This session lasts one hour and is completely interactive. National Gallery educators will facilitate the conversation to create an environment for shared learning. These conversations will encourage you to engage deeply with art, with others, and with the world around you as you hone skills in visual literacy and perspective-taking.

This program is free and open to the public and is designed for anyone interested in talking about art. No art or art history background is required. Ages 18 and over.

Due to the interactive nature of this program, sessions are not recorded.

Live Captions

Live captions (CART) are available in some breakout rooms for this program. Please contact [email protected] to request access or for more information.