The River Scheldt in Antwerp is 400 metres wide. A river like that rarely freezes over - except during the mid-sixteenth century, when the so-called Little Ice Age was at its zenith. Lucas van Valckenborch has captured the atmosphere of a cold winter's day with great skill. Dark snow clouds alternate with blue sky, and the sun, lying low on the horizon, casts long shadows. The peasants have lit a fire on the embankment. Day labourers gathering wood and elegant city dwellers watch the bustle on the ice with amusement.
"Dr. Grambs also owns a collection of paintings, copperplate engravings and drawings by hand which exceeds all expectations. The definitive knowledge of the owner helps the visitor to gain rapid enlightenment and thorough understanding." That was how Goethe described the Frankfurt collection of the lawyer Johann Georg Grambs (1756-1817). It included Netherlandish Baroque artists and contemporary master painters from Frankfurt. Grambs was one of the administrators of the museum appointed by Städel. Like the donor, he, too, bequeathed his art collection to the institute.
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