Caravaggio and the Painters of the North
From 21 June to 18 September 2016
Son of the printmaker and Mannerist draughtsman Jan Saenredam, Pieter was born in Assendelft in 1597. After the death of his father in 1609 Saenredam moved to Haarlem where he embarked on his training with Frans Grebber, a history painter and portraitist, remaining in his studio for ten years from 1612 to 1622. During that period he met and established a close relationship with the celebrated architect Jacob van Campen, responsible for the new Town Hall in Amsterdam. Saenredam lived and worked in Haarlem throughout his career, becoming a master in 1612 and registering in the guild of Saint Luke. His first known painting dates from 1628 and depicts The Interior of the Church of St. Bavo in Haarlem (J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu), a subject that Saenredam would paint on numerous occasions between 1628 and 1636. Between June 1636 and January 1637 he visited Utrecht where he made a large number of drawings of the interior and exterior of the Mariakerk and the cathedral. In the 1640s he married and spent less time away from Haarlem, where his name appears repeatedly in relation to the painters’ guild, of which he was appointed dean in 1642. Among the cities that Saenredam visited and whose churches were the subject of paintings and drawings are Alkmaar, The Hague, Assendelft and Rhenen. Saenredam associated and collaborated with architects including Pieter Post and his friend Jacob van Campen. He specialised in paintings of interiors and architectural views of notably high quality and he is considered the most important artist within this genre in 17th-century Holland. His expressive interiors are constructed with delicate golden tones and can be considered major works of this type. Saenredam was not a prolific painter due to the care and attention that he devoted to each painting. Notable compositions within his oeuvre include his Roman landscapes inspired by the work of Maerten van Heemskerck, The Exterior of the old Amsterdam Town Hall (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), The Choir of the Cathedral of Saint John in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (National Gallery of Art, Washington) and numerous interiors of the Mariakerk in Utrecht and St. Bavo in Haarlem. Saenredam had no direct followers but his compositions had an important influence on the work of the Haarlem painters Job Berckheyde and Isaac van Nickele.