Skilled at capturing gorgeous, romantic light at dawn and at dusk – those soft edges and muted hues a hallmark of his art – Charles Leickert is a Belgian artist strongly associated with winter landscape painting. The timeless nostalgia he evokes in his oil paintings, along with peeks into quaint small-town or neighborhood life, continue to command high prices at auction and have been housed in museum collections at Crocker Art Museum (Sacramento, California); Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam); Odessa Museum of Western and Eastern Art (Odessa, Ukraine); Landesmuseum (Mainz, Germany); and The Teylers Museum (Haarlem, Netherlands).
Whether skaters sliding across the lake’s icy surface next to a Dutch windmill in Ice View with Skaters or crowds traversing along Smedestraat in Haarlem, Netherlands (a major trading port) in Snowy Street in Haarlem, Leickert embraced snowy landscape painting in both rural and urban scenes.
That he was extremely prolific – reportedly painting around 700 various works during his lifetime – is a testament to Leickert’s devotion to painting.
Charles Leickert’s Life and Art
Born in Brussels, Belgium, in 1816, Charles Henri Joseph Leickert later migrated to the Netherlands where he focused on depicting Dutch landscapes. His mentors (more established painters) are nearly household names in the fine-art world: Andreas Schelfhout, Bartholomeus van Hove and Wijnand Nuijen.
Closely linked with the movement of 19th-century landscape paintings, but with his own twist that included playful use of light juxtaposed against iconic pieces of Dutch life (including windmills), Leickert continues to be a key player in the world of Belgian painters, both past and present.
Collectors and appreciators of his painters are familiar with three distinct geographic periods in his life as an artist. Between 1841 and 1846 he painted in the Hague, working with Schelfhout, van Hove and Nuijen as well as studying at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, also in the Hague. He then moved to the big city, Amsterdam, where he lived from 1849-1883, before moving to Mainz, Germany, in 1887, dying 10 years after at the age of 81. His membership in the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences served to elevate his career by widening his exposure among other artists, notably Bartolomeus van Hove, who deeply influenced his work in return.
Leickert’s Well-Known Works
Dutch Winter Scene, 1883
In Britain’s National Trust collection, this painting’s iced-over lake and moody skies are typical wintry scenes of Leickert’s but there’s also a nod to Dutch life: two windmills are in full view and a traditional Dutch-style home is beside the waterfront, with a small pedestrian bridge above the water.
The Old Gate, 1880
Completed over a span of 30 years beginning in 1880, the painting is housed at Rijksmuseum and a realistic portrait of the landmark (including its two gables) in Haarlem, in the Netherlands. It’s an average day in this historic port town with locals milling about on foot, including a woman walking with a basket on her head and a man’s attempts to sell goods to two women on the street.
Urban Landscape, 1856
Part of the collection at State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, this urban scene in a large Dutch city is a departure from Leickert’s usual love for painting water settings, whether in canals or on lakes. Because trading was so pivotal during the mid-1850s, Leickert’s street scene portrays this, with merchants arriving by boat and being received on land.
Winter on the IJ in Amsterdam, 1850
This depiction of a snowy landscape—within Rijksmuseum’s collection—shows Amsterdam’s skyline off in the distance while, in the foreground, locals ski and sled. Both the house and shed in this painting were common architectural designs of the time.
Winter Scene, 1867
Part of Rijksmuseum’s collection, this is a wintry landscape complete with snow and ice as well as a church and several mills. There’s a mix of leisure and function on display, with some characters in the painting skating for pleasure while others pull sleds to haul items and goods for sale.
Leickert’s Works at Auction
Due to Leickert being such a prolific painter, his works can often be found at auction. Here’s a summary of recent notable auctions.
Tending to the Horses on a Frozen River
When: November 9, 2010
Auction House: Christie’s
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Sold Price: €137,370
With an estimated hammer price between €70,000 and €90,000 euros, this painting was a collaboration between the two artists, who were good friends. Moerenhout was known for his figure work and Leickert for landscapes. Together the two created a strong painting that didn’t compete, but instead celebrated, their different approaches to art.
Skaters Near a Windmill
When: October 28, 2010
Auction House: Shannon’s
Location: Milford, Connecticut
Sold Price: USD$90,000
Stemming from a private collection, the $75,000 sale price for the Skaters Near a Windmill painting fell in the estimated range ($75,000 to $100,000). Like many of Leickert’s scenes, the town centerpiece is the canal, where locals skate or sled near a windmill, as the painting’s title suggests.
A River Scene at Dusk
When: April 24, 2006
Auction House: Sotheby’s
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Sold Price: €166,265
As with many Leickert paintings at auction in 2006-7, the hammer price for this River Scene at Dusk fell far above than the estimated range (€50,000 – €70,000). It portrays another of Leickert’s common subjects: a watery scene where nature meets human activity and commerce.
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