HEYDEN, Jan van der
(b. 1637, Gorinchem, d. 1712, Amsterdam)

Amsterdam: Street before Haarlem Tower

Oil on oak, 34 x 41 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Many of van der Heyden's urban views are on the arid side, singularly detailed, seemingly recreating every single brick, as if painted after consulting a telescope or camera obscura. But this Amsterdam view is unusually open and free. Close to Vermeer in its brilliance and sense of surprise, this city view, like so many of the best Dutch landscapes, gives the sky its due, letting that eloquent void stress the intrusive, shabby character of urban sprawl.