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

Interior of the St. Jans Kerk at Utrecht

Oil on wood
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

The Haarlem artist Pieter Jansz. Saenredam is one of those Dutch painters who specialized throughout their lives in a single field, gradually perfecting their execution of the chosen subject; he devoted himself almost exclusively to church interiors. Painters of architecture are generally rather limited in their range of motifs and their means of interpretation, but Saenredam was so deeply absorbed in his subject and gifted with such pictorial eloquence that his works must be counted as masterpieces.

This picture is typical of his calm compositions of simple, undecorated Protestant churches, their interiors occasionally enlivened by the inclusion of an awe-inspiring old tomb or statue, whose beauty and monumentality are enhanced by the painter's restraint in excluding all anecdotal detail; nothing disturbs the silence of the church. Saenredam's is an artistic vision set apart from the turmoil of the world, a harmony of perspective and light.