Interior of St Odolph’s Church in Assendelft

Pieter Saenredam, 1649
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

‘This is the church in Assendelft, a village in Holland, by Pieter Saenredam, painted in the year 1649. The 2nd of October’ is written in the foreground at the bottom of the pew. ‘Read the inscription and you’re standing there, shoulder to shoulder with the artist,’ wrote CODART founder and Saenredam expert Gary Schwartz. Thanks to a detail, we do not only look along with Saenredam, but we also feel with him. A tombstone can be seen on the floor. Here was the tomb of Pieter’s father, the engraver Jan Saenredam, as well as that of the man who adopted him after his father’s death, Pieter de Jonge. The painting gives us access to the interior of the church, which we could simply enter, so to speak, but also to the painter’s emotional life. A painting that gives us so many entrances to another place and another time, and to the people who lived there, deserves our attention. There are also, of course, the attractive aesthetics of the painting. Saenredam was a fantastic painter. Thanks to him, we can tell stories about the Reformation, village churches in Holland, the poor conservation of monuments in the nineteenth century, as well as about life and death, love, loss, and memory—and about the historical sensation.

Tom van der Molen, Curator Amsterdam Museum, Amsterdam

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Interior of St Odolph’s Church in Assendelft in 60 seconds

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