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Jan van der Heyden, A Square before a Church

Key facts
Full title A Square before a Church
Artist Jan van der Heyden
Artist dates 1637 - 1712
Date made 1678
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 21.8 × 28.9 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Sir James Morse Carmichael, Bt, 1902
Inventory number NG1915
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
A Square before a Church
Jan van der Heyden

Jan van der Heyden clearly enjoyed the discipline of painting very fine details. Although this is a very small picture, he has delineated many of the leaves of the trees individually. If you look closely at the grey roof of the church, you can see that he has used incredibly fine lines of black paint to suggest the patterns made by the tiles.

But he also seems to have enjoyed the challenge of depicting entirely imaginary buildings and townscapes and making them seem real. This picture is almost certainly an example of his inventive streak – a fantasy composed of elements of different buildings that he had seen during his travels in Germany and Holland. The architecture of the church is typical of the mid-sixteenth-century Gothic of northern Germany. The simpler brick building on the left is more Dutch in character. 

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