Charles Leickert was born in Brussels and grew up in The Hague. Charles Leickert’s childhood is anything but idyllic. Both his parents die young, and Charles Leickert and his two sisters are placed in a public orphanage of the Dutch Reformed Church. Despite this, his artistic talent is discovered early, and Charles Leickert is enrolled in The Hague Drawing Academy at age eleven. A turning point in his development as an artist comes when Charles Leickert is taken under the wing of gifted painter Wynand Nuyen, who encourages Charles Leickert to focus more on nature in his work. After Nuyen’s early death in 1839, Charles Leickert becomes a student of renowned Romantic painter Andreas Schelfhout, under whom he makes tremendous progress and begins exploring a whole new world of subjects. Where Charles Leickert initially painted primarily summer landscapes, under the influence of his master he begins to produce exquisite winter landscapes and ice scenes. Also under Schelfhout’s tutelage, Charles Leickert produces his first beach scenes, a genre dating back to the seventeenth century and revived by Schelfhout in his work.
Charles Leickert painted this opulent beach scene in 1853, a period when he was producing his best work. It is low tide, and three flat-bottomed fishing boats are beached on the dry sand. The fisherfolk are a frenzy of activity, pulling in the anchors, lowering the sails, sorting the fish, etc. Objects like baskets, fishing tackle, ropes, and nets are all painted with a fantastic sense of detail.
The horizon is low, leaving plenty of room for the artist to render the sky and its atmospheric effects to advantage. The sunlight is breaking through the clouds to create mesmerizing light and shadow effects. To the left, rising clouds can be seen, and off in the distance dark clouds alternate with patches of blue sky. Charles Leickert’s highly developed sense of colour, his rock-solid brushwork, and his mastery of composition are all at their peak in this masterpiece.