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Jan van der Heyden, An Imaginary View of Nijenrode Castle

Key facts
Full title An Imaginary View of Nijenrode Castle and the Sacristy of Utrecht Cathedral
Artist Jan van der Heyden
Artist dates 1637 - 1712
Date made probably 1665-70
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 52.9 × 41.4 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG994
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
An Imaginary View of Nijenrode Castle
Jan van der Heyden

Although he liked to paint scenes that looked highly realistic, Jan van der Heyden made adjustments to what he saw, and often created entirely imaginary scenes. Sometimes he would compose fantasy buildings, combining elements from more than one structure. Here his approach is slightly different. He has taken taken two buildings which were in reality about seven miles apart and placed them much closer together.

In the foreground is the sacristy of Utrecht Cathedral. Just across the cobbled street is Nijenrode Castle, which is located at Breukelen, well outside the city. Both buildings still exist but have been significantly altered since this painting was made. However, we know from other paintings that van der Heyden probably made small changes to each of them – for example, in reality the sacristy was built of stone, not of brick.

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