Hendrick van Vliet (Dutch, 1611/12–1675)
Oil on canvas
32 1/2 x 26 in. (82.6 x 66 cm)
Gift of Clarence Dillon, 1976 (1976.23.2)
The Delft portraitist Hendrick van Vliet started painting views of the local Delft churches in the early 1650s, following the lead of the older specialist Gerard Houckgeest. By 1600, the mostly Gothic churches of the northern Netherlands had been converted from Catholic to Calvinist use by stripping bare their "Popish" appointments and whitewashing the columns and walls. Worship centered on a pulpit in the nave, where the preacher would read scripture to a congregation gathered on chairs and stools. The original appeal of paintings like this one ranged from religious to aesthetic: they were often listed as "Perspectives" in seventeenth-century inventories.