Pieter Jansz. Saenredam (Assendelft 1597-1665 Haarlem)
is one of the most remarkable 17th century painters. In the
year 1628 he took a decision to devote the rest of his life to
painting 'perspectives'. Saenredam kept his word, and
developed into the Master of perspective.
The finest architectural paintings of the seventeenth
In 1636 Saenredam worked in Utrecht for twenty weeks at a
stretch. During this period he was drawing the city's
mediaeval churches. He took measurements, made
technical drawings and sketched the fronts and interiors of
the churches, which in many cases were in danger of being
demolished. In the following years he worked the drawings
and preliminary studies into the finest architectural
paintings of the seventeenth century, which even today
provide a source of inspiration for many artists and
designers. To be seen in the exhibition are at least 15 of the
21 paintings that have been preserved and 40 or so
drawings which Saenredam made of the Utrecht churches.
The panels, which are extremely valuable and easily
damaged, come from leading collections at home and abroad
and from private owners.
Following in Saenredam's footsteps
Thanks to Saenredam's extreme precision (he dated his
drawings accurately), we can still to this day follow on his
heels in a ten-minute radius on foot. His first drawing dated
18 June 1636 and the last 23 October 1636. In the
exhibition Pieter Saenderam in Utrecht there is an
opportunity to follow in the artist's footsteps in the city by
looking at the overall view captured in the drawings and
paintings of Utrecht as he saw it.
Saenredam's work methods
The exhibition exposes the unusual and innovative work
methods employed by Saenredam in some detail.
Saenredam was the first to show what the church interior
really looked like. Painting a correct 'church portrait'
demanded a new method of work which Saenredam
developed with the surveyor Pieter Wils. On the basis of the
measurements which he made on the spot he produced a
detailed drawing of the church building. With this
comprehensive sketch, separately drawn up details, and a
floor plan he went back to his workshop to continue work.
The sketch which Saenredam had made on the spot was
reproduced on the panel with the help of a so-called
construction drawing, and after that had been done he
started painting. In his paintings he manipulated the spaces
to such an extent that they appeared to be more
monumental than they actually were in reality. Saenredam's
innovative work method will be made clear in the exhibition.
Main benefactors of Pieter Saenredam, the Utrecht Work are
Greenfield Capital Partners, Gold-Zack A.G. and the VSB
Fund. Other benefactors are SNS Reaal Fund and the KF
'Het schip en het koor van de Sint Pieterskerk te Utrecht',
28 november 1654
Panel: 50 x 72.5 cm
Collection: Frans Halsmuseum, Haarlem