FABRITIUS, Carel
(b. 1622, Middenbeemster, d. 1654, Delft)

View of the City of Delft

1652
Oil on canvas, 15,4 x 31,6 cm
National Gallery, London

The View of the City of Delft with the stall of a dealer in musical instruments suggests that Fabritius, like other contemporary Dutch painters, made use of a camera obscura.

This small painting is the only known visual evidence of the artist's famous expertise in the use of linear perspective. It depicts the centre of Delft, with the Nieuwe Kerk seen from the southeast, facing the town hall in the distance (the grey building beyond the bridge in the left background). The left-hand part of the composition is imaginary. A man bearing some resemblance to the artist himself sits at a table beside a weathered wall. A lute leans against the building, casting a shadow on the wall, where the artist's signature clarifies the receding plane. A viola da gamba lies on the cloth-covered tabletop.

It is now generally agreed that this painting was meant to be displayed in a special viewing case or "perspective box", a distinctively Dutch art form. In addition, most scholar maintained that the canvas must have been mounted originally on a bent or curved surface.