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Dirck van Delen, An Architectural Fantasy

Key facts
Full title An Architectural Fantasy
Artist Dirck van Delen
Artist dates 1604/5 - 1671
Date made 1634
Medium and support Oil on mahogany
Dimensions 46.7 × 60.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG1010
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
An Architectural Fantasy
Dirck van Delen

This is a picture of an idealised city square, carefully painted to make sure that the perspectives, proportions and the effects of light and shade make it look as realistic as possible. Dirck van Delen specialised in painting buildings and imaginary architectural views, and the attention to such details is typical of his work. This was a popular genre and the architectural styles of the classical world and buildings of the Italian Renaissance were very fashionable.

The figures were added by another artist, probably either Anthonie Palamedesz. or Jan Olis. Dressed in expensive, fashionable clothes, they parade elegantly around this grand stage, stepping out from behind columns, doors and archways, and gazing down from the windows. They are an idealised society, populating an idealised city. Just one, in the centre foreground, catches our eye: perhaps he, at least, is real, a portrait of a friend or the man who commissioned the painting.

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