The term " landscape " derives from the Dutch word landschap , which originally meant "region, tract of land" but acquired the artistic connotation, "a picture depicting scenery on land" in the early 16th century. After the fall of the Roman Empire , the tradition of depicting pure landscapes declined and the landscape was seen only as a setting for religious and figural scenes. This tradition continued until the 16th century when artists began to view the landscape as a subject in its own right. The Dutch Golden Age painting of the 17th century saw the dramatic growth of landscape painting , in which many artists specialized, and the development of extremely subtle realist techniques for depicting light and weather.
Skating is also an important part of the Dutch sports heritage. Once hugely popular, it has recently been relegated from frozen waterways to indoor ice rinks due to the warmer weather of the last few years. Despite this, speed-skating (rather than figure-skating) is still a national obsession, though the Dutch have had few international champions of late. The province of Friesland is the heartland of skating, and if it freezes long enough, they hold one of the longest skating marathons on natural ice in the world: the Eleven Cities race ( “Elfstedentocht” ).