"Interior of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Antwerp", Flemish painter active in the 17th Century
Mid 17th Century
Oil on canvas
Size: With frame cm 180 L x H 143; canvas cm 163 x 125 cm
The fine painting depicts the interior of the Antwerp Cathedral in the Flanders region of Belgium.
The point of view of the observer, slightly raised from that of the faithful, allows to observe the interior of the nave, with at the bottom the iconostasis and beyond the presbytery, the choir and the apse with large windows. On the left, it’s possible to see some chapels and the side aisle and the opening of the transept.
In the space described there are some characters that animate the composition. They are faithful, religious figures; in the foreground some noble clothes according to the fashion widespread around the middle of the seventeenth century and, on the left, a poor beggar.
Today, the Cathedral of Our Lady is the largest cathedral in Belgium and the main Catholic place of worship in the Flemish city of Antwerp and stands behind the Grote markt, the main square of the city. It represents a superb example of Gothic architecture and is one of the greatest masterpieces of the Brabant Gothic style. Begun the building of the church in 1352, on a previous Romanesque building, the choir was completed in 1415. The body of the naves was finished in 1487 and the transept was worked there until 1495. In 1521, after about 170 years of work, the yard was completed. Then, the 7 side aisles were built and the choir was enlarged by adding a new outer ring of radial chapels. In 1559 it became a cathedral. The church represents a new type of conception of the interior space: the seven naves are divided by large pillars polystyles beam that, without capitals, they are inserted directly at the vaults and the ogival arches of the central nave are exceptionally wide.
There are several Flemish painters who represented the interior of the cathedral of Antwerp between the 16th and 17th Centuries. These include Paul Vredeman De Vries, Peeter I Neeffs, Peeter II Neeffs, James Goodwyn Clonney, Sebastiaan Vrancx, Hendrik van Steenwijck II. The author of this painting must be sought after among these painters and their circle. A work by the baroque painter Hendrik van Steenwijck II (Antwerp 1580?- Londres ou La Haye 1649), dated 1746, represents the same point of view as the interior of the church. Even the furnishings and the architecture described, which have undergone some modifications over the centuries, appear the same described in the painting in question. For these details, for the pictorial style and for the type of clothes that the figures wear, the work can be dated to the second half of the 17th Century.
Historical and artistic studies are being carried out on this work, which is in a good condition.