SAENREDAM, Pieter Jansz
(b. 1597, Assendelft, d. 1665, Haarlem)

Interior of the Choir of Sint-Bavokerk at Haarlem

Pen and black chalk on paper
Schlossmuseum, Weimar

Saenredam's working method generally consisted of three stages. First he made a preliminary freehand drawing at the site. The freehand study was then used for a more exact construction drawing made in the studio with the aid of measured ground plans and elevations; sometimes he subtly manipulated the dimensions of a building and its elements to heighten pictorial effects. Finished drawings were kept on file as part of the stock to which he turned when he was ready for the final stage: an oil painting on panel. The main outlines of his architectural paintings are frequently transferred by tracing from his construction drawings.

A description of his working procedure makes it appear mechanical, one may think it suitable for the production of architectural renderings, not works of art. However, a look at Saenredam's paintings proves this is not the case. None of his paintings - about fifty are known - can be categorized as tinted perspective studies. The unmistakable clarity of his vision and the intensity of his scrupulous observation, as well as a sensitive tonality, mark every one.