Emmanuel de Witte

Old Church in Delft

Old Church in Delft
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Emmanuel de Witte
Interiors, Painting, Oil on canvas, 95x82 cm
Origin: Holland, No earlier than 1642

A leading master of architectural painting, de Witte spent eight years in Delft, where he finally established his interest in the depiction of church interiors. In general the artist did not seek to create a precise likeness of the interior of a particular church, tending rather to combine elements to create generalised, representative scenes. He brought his interiors to life by using effects of sunlight to animate everything around.

Air fills the space of this Gothic church, a soft light resting evenly on the columns and the high vaults. Part of the nave and the ambo remain in shadow but the colourful stained glass windows split and scatter the light, sparkling on surfaces. A ray of sun picks out the cloak of some noble parishioner. Aristocrats and beggars, dogs and children, all have their place beneath the vaults of the church, where calm and peace reign. Only the work of the grave-digger recalls the brevity of earthly existence in this scene so otherwise detached from the bustle and vanity of everyday life.

An important element in this work is the series of plaques on the wall bearing the coats-of-arms of the free Dutch cities, only relatively recently liberated from Spanish dominion.

Source of entry: State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, 1935
Theme: History
Exibition: Dutch art: 17th century

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