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 exclamed in sheer admiration: ‘one could not paint more exquisitely’. Up to this day, Schelfhout’s supremacy as a painter of winter landscapes remains unchallenged.
Andreas 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.