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Pieter Saenredam: 'The Interior of the Buurkerk at Utrecht'

This painting shows the interior of the Buurkerk at Utrecht from the door in the north side looking south-west. The surviving structure is mostly from the 14th and 15th centuries; the multiple columns are the remains of the 13th-century building.

Saenredam, in contrast to some other Dutch architectural painters, always attempted to be as faithful to reality as possible when representing existing church interiors. He usually worked from carefully measured drawings produced in the church itself. A drawing by Saenredam (Utrecht, Municipal Archives) dated 16 August 1636 shows the interior of this church from the same viewpoint, and this picture corresponds with the right half of it.

The drawing above the signature represents an episode from the popular 13th-century French story of the four sons of Aymon of Dordogne. They are shown escaping on their magic horse Bayard, after one of them had killed Charlemagne's nephew.


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