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Title Architectural Fantasy, with the Old Town Hall, Amsterdam
Collection English Heritage (Wellington Museum, Apsley House)
Artist Heyden, Jan van der (Dutch painter, 16371712)
Date Earliest about 1665
Date Latest 1670
Signed yes

This is an architectural fantasy containing buildings from different parts of Amsterdam. The house in the left foreground with the small five-sided gothic oriel is the St Elisabethgasthuis; the portico behind it is the old Town Hall, which burnt down in 1652. In the background, the dome of the new Town Hall, which was built to replace the one destroyed, is visible behind the bridge. Such architectural fantasies of eclectically derived buildings placed in invented settings form a distinct group in van der Heyden's work; thirty-seven are catalogued by Helga Wagner. Views of Amsterdam canals were particularly subject to the creative reshuffling of familiar landmarks, yet manage to maintain a plausible semblance of reality.

Born in Gorkum (Gorinchem), van der Heyden lived mainly in Amsterdam, where he was one of the leading specialists in town views. From the end of the 1660s he was also engaged in projects to improve street-lighting and fire-fighting.

Current Accession Number WM 15001948
Inscription front lc (on wall) 'V Heyde f i66[]'
Subject townscape; place (Amsterdam); buildings and gardens (old Town Hall, Amsterdam; St Elisabethgasthuis, Amsterdam
Measurements 47.7 x 59.0 cm (estimate)
Material oil on wood (hardwood {oak})
Notes Although the last digit of the date is not clearly legible, WM 1500 probably dates to the end of the 1660s. Stylistically, it is broader in treatment and more atmospheric than the early works, and Helga Wagner links it with a number of pictures of the period c. 166772, including the Westerkerk in the Wallace Collection and the Oude Kerk in the Mauritshuis, The Hague (Wagner 1971, nos. 7 and 6 respectively). She does not accept the tradition that the figures are by Adriaen van de Velde (Hofstede de Groot 190827; Wellington 1901). There is contemporary evidence to confirm that Adriaen van de Velde painted figures for van der Heyden, but this is not to say that each figure in all his paintings is by him. Van der Heyden's drawings for his Brandspuytenboek show that he could draw figures, though their style is derived from Adriaen van de Velde. His own figures in his paintings are also in the style of van de Velde, but they are plumper and more squat. For van der Heyden see H. Wagner, Jan van der Heyden, Amsterdam, 1971; exh. cat., Greenwich CT, Bruce Museum, and Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, Jan van der Heyden (16371712), 200607.
Rights Owner Copyright English Heritage
Author C.M. Kauffmann, revised by Susan Jenkins



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