Pieter Saenredam – National Gallery
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Why is someone drawing graffiti inside a church and what does this tell us about how artists used their imagination when painting everyday life? Did drawing graffiti and dog training, really go on inside churches in the 17th century?
Saenredam was a pioneering Dutch painter of church interiors and topographical views. He was among the first architectural painters to emphasise topographical accuracy in his drawings, although in his paintings variations were introduced for pictorial effect. He was particularly interested in the depiction of natural light flooding vast and complex interiors.
Saenredam was born at Assendelft, the son of an engraver. His training took place at Haarlem, with Frans Pietersz de Grebber in whose studio he remained until 1622, and he became a member of the Haarlem guild of painters in 1623. He produced topographical drawings of other towns in the Netherlands, but remained chiefly active at Haarlem and he was closely in touch with the leading architects of his day, including Jacob van Campen, designer of the Amsterdam Town Hall.
In this short film about the 1626 painting by Pieter Saenredam of the Buurkerk in Utrecht, Justine Rinnooy Kan, the National Gallery’s Dorset Curatorial Fellow, picks out some surprising details and some behaviour we wouldn’t expect to see inside a church .