Although this spacious church interior is largely imaginary, Emanuel de Witte’s precise description of architectural forms convinces us that he depicted an actual place. To create a sense of familiarity, he included some specific architectural features from the Oude Kerk (Old Church) in Amsterdam. In the late 1500s, militant Protestant sects occupied Catholic churches in the Netherlands and stripped them of rich decorations and “idolatrous” images. The resulting spare, whitewashed interiors became a favorite subject of Dutch artists, who were intrigued by the interplay of light and shadow over the unadorned walls, and by the challenge of depicting perspectival space.
Credit Line: Text courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art.