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Pieter Saenredam

Assendelft 1597 - Haarlem 1665


The Dutch painter Pieter Saenredam (1597-1665) was born in Assendelft. His father was a talented draftsman and engraver. In 1608 Saenredam moved to Haarlem with his mother, where Pieter only painted the interiors and facades of churches and occasional cityscapes dominated by churches.
Before Saenredam began a painting, he tried to explore the building in as much detail as possible. He climbed the clock tower or, whenever there was restoration work in progress, he used the scaffolding to climb to the ceiling of the dome. He drew sketches of seemingly unimportant details from various angles. The paintings thus produced, show an impressive understanding of architecture and perspective.
He furthermore managed to give his church paintings vitality. Pieter Saenredam's passion was not people but their mental and technical achievements, in which they express the divine. His human figures are minute, almost incidentally scattered in space, lonely and lost, underlining the spatial dominance, which is immense anyway.
The artist traveled a lot and sometimes spent a prolonged time in one place to make sketches of the interiors of churches. Sometimes he even consulted surveyors to use the most exact technical data possible. In other cases, however, he manipulated the results of measurements for the sake of his art.
Pieter Saenredam died in his home town of Haarlem on May 31, 1665.


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