KLAES MOLENAER (Haarlem c. 1628 - 1676 Haarlem)

Klaes Molenaer

Klaes Molenaer (Haarlem c. 1628 - 1676 Haarlem)

Skaters along a Frozen Canal

Oil on panel, 29.6 x 36.9 cm (10.6 x 14.5 inch); presented in a modern ebonised frame of 17th-century model

Signed ‘K. Molenaer’ (lower left)

Anonymous sale, Christie’s, 11 January 1995, lot 20; The Harry R. Calsing Trust, Cleveland Ohio


Klaes (or Nicolaes) Molenaer was one of the youngest sons of the tailor Jan Mienssen Molenaer and Grietgen Adriaens: no exact birth dates for their eight children are known, as the family was Roman Catholic and no official baptismal register was kept, unlike births of members of Protestant families.1 Klaes was the younger brother of Jan Miense Molenaer, who was married to Judith Leyster, and of Bartholomeus Molenaer. On 13 November 1650, Klaes married Guyrtgen Jacobsdr, with whom he had four children. He was buried on 31 December 1676 in the church of St Bavo in Haarlem.

He was taught by the little known painter Nicolaes Piemont but was more influenced by the works of his fellow townsmen Jacob van Ruisdael and Isaac van Ostade. Molenaer specialised in Dutch landscapes and town views.

Molenaer was an industrious painters and many of his charming works are preserved in museums all over the world, including the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum in Braunschweig and the Gemäldegalerie in Hessen. Our beautifully preserved work can be compared to a Winter Landscape in the Staatliches Museum in Schwerin (fig.).2 Winter landscapes are among Molenaer’s most beloved works. Winters were harsh during the seventeenth century, which is known as the Small Ice Age, and winter landscapes flourished.


1. For the artist, see Saur’s Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon: die bildenden Künstler aller Zeiten und Völker, Munich 1992, vol. 90 (2016), p. 214.
2. Panel, 55 x 78 cm, inv. no. G 142; L. Jürss, Holländische und Flämische Malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts, Schwerin 1982, p. 109, no. 247.