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Carel Fabritius: 'A View of Delft'

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This view shows part of the Dutch town of Delft. It is taken from the corner of the Oude Langendijk and Oosteinde, looking roughly north west: in the centre is the Nieuwe Kerk and just to the left of it, in the distance, the town hall; both of these look much the same today. On the left, is the booth of a musical instrument vendor, with, in the foreground, a viola da gamba and a lute.

The function and original display of the painting have been much debated. The picture may have formed part of a perspective box or peepshow. This would account for its exaggerated perspective, and the cutting-off of the foreshortened viola da gamba in the foreground. Such a perspective box probably had a curved back onto which the canvas was mounted. Fabritius was interested in perspective and illusionism, and is described in four documents as having made perspective boxes.