The Golden Bend

Gerrit Berckheyde, 1671 — 1672
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Gerrit Berckheyde dedicated himself mainly to painting cityscapes. View of the Golden Bend in the Herengracht from the East is a highlight of his oeuvre. This ode to architecture radiates peace, harmony and beauty. The motionless reflections of the houses in the still water, the rhythmic repetition of motifs, the minimal human activity, the austere palette, and the strong contrasts between light and shade, give this piece of Amsterdam – which is rendered with extraordinary accuracy – a lifelike air while at the same time conveying a slight air of unreality. The strong spatial effect draws the viewer into the architectural surroundings. Berckheyde’s mastery of his craft is epitomized by this very modern-looking painting.

Irina Sokolova, Curator of Dutch Painting, State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

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