“Winter Vreugde opden Amstel en ‘t gaan der Ysbreekers en der waterschuiten” [Winter fun on the Amstel river with the icebreaker and water barge gliding by]. Etching after a drawing by Tileman van der Horst. Printed from various copper plates. Published in 1746(?) by Pieter Schenk. Coloured later by a hand. Size (print) 63 x 91 cm.
On the Amstel river in Amsterdam (seen towards the Weesperzijde) the icebreaker (being towed by 40 horses) draws large crowds that come see the ship passing. Many of the spectators are wearing skates and are enjoying their time on the ice. Not everyone is a good skater, some people fall whilst trying. We see various types of sledges, some horse drawn, some fancy types in the form of a stuffed bear or deer, others are more basic. Ice skating was an event for people of all classes of Dutch society.
The icebreaker was a joint venture of the Amsterdam breweries. The river had to be made ice free for water barges to pass through in order to fetch fresh water from the Vecht river near the city of Weesp. In this way they were assured also in winter time of regular watersupply to produce beer. The Amsterdam brewers were afraid to lose market share to the breweries of Rotterdam, when fresh water was in short supply.
The icebreaker was operated by one skipper and five workers. The ship, built in 1696, was kept available to supply water until 1860.
In the 18th century at this very location alongside the Amstel, there was a tavern for the pleople working the ship and the locals of the neigbourhood. Today there is a cafe-restaurant that bears the name De Ysbreker
Literature: I.H. van Eeghen, “De IJsbreker, in: Jaarboek Amstelodamum 46 (1954), pp. 61-75.
Price: Euro 5.250,- (incl. frame)