The Choir and North Ambulatory of the Church of Saint Bavo, Haarlem (Main View)

Pieter Jansz. Saenredam

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

In preparation for one of his scrupulously observed paintings of buildings, Pieter Saenredam, known to his contemporaries as the "first portraitist of architecture," made this drawing as the second of two preliminary studies of the choir and north ambulatory of Saint Bavo. He first produced a perspective rendering in October 1634, working on location inside the church. In his studio a month later, Saenredam transformed the life study into this finely tuned, idealized drawing showing the deep vista from one of the side chapels across the nave to another. According to the inscription, he completed his painting after this drawing on October 15, 1635.

Saenredam began the drawing with a series of vertical and horizontal ruled graphite lines that delineate the faces of the side piers and establish a central vanishing point, clearly visible between the figures in the lower center. He then elaborately finished the sheet in pen and ink, wash, and watercolor. Corrections made during this phase included removing two figures from in front of the columns.


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