Dirck van Delen - A Church Interior with the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple - image-1

Lot 1075 Dα

Dirck van Delen - A Church Interior with the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

Auction 1049 - overview Cologne
16.05.2015, 11:00 - Old Master & 19th Century Paintings, Drawings
Estimate: 80.000 € - 100.000 €
Result: 99.200 € (incl. premium)

Dirck van Delen

A Church Interior with the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

Oil on panel. 59.5 x 87.5 cm.

This scene of the presentation in the temple depicted inside a Renaissance era church is an early work of Dirck van Delen, painted between 1628 and 1630. The piece was long thought to be the work of the Dutch artist Bartholomeus van Bassen, but Bernard Vermet from the RKD in the Hague has convincingly attributed it to Dirck van Delen.

We see the monumental interior of a church with a choir screen formed from three arches supported by twin columns and surmounted by a majestic organ which forms the centre of the architectural scenery. The choir screen is positioned slightly to the left of the centre, so that the vanishing point adheres to the golden section. The space in front of the choir screen forms a stage for a large group of figures in Classical costume depicting the presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:22). A monumental, overshadowed arch in the right foreground forms a repoussoir to the background of the work, and the brightly lit vaults of the choir can be viewed through the arches of the choir screen.

Opulence, monumentality, temperance and order are all made visible in Dirck van Delen's painted architecture. The image is constructed as if from a pattern book, light is used to great effect, the artist has depicted precious materials like coloured marble, and the entire architectural idiom follows all the rules laid down by the Italian Renaissance. Van Delen had access to numerous examples of this style to base his works on, in printed, painted and architectural form. For example, van Delen uses elements taken from the prints of the Flemish artists Hans and Paul Vredeman de Vries and the paintings of Bartholomeus van Bassen as well as existing architecture such as the choir screen of the cathedral of s´Hertogenbosch (cf. illus. 1). Vermet recognised the triumphal arch motif from Coenraed van Norenberch's choir screen in the catholic church, which was completed in 1613, as the inspiration for the screen in this work.

Dirck van Delen is among the earliest Dutch representatives of architectural painting in the 17th century. Arnold Houbraken records him being a pupil of Frans Hals. There is no proof of this, but his figures display the influence of Frans Hals' brother Dirck. The present work is a prime example of the knowledge of Italian Renaissance architecture in the Netherlands, which became ever greater throughout the second half of the 16th century, primarily due to the Antwerp based publisher Hieronymus Cock. Dirck van Delen's pictures were intended for a learned audience with knowledge of the works of Vitruvius and Serlios and the classical orders.


Walther Bernt, Munich, 17.11.1973 attributed to Bartholomäus van Bassen). - Bernard Vermet, RKD, The Hague, March 2013 (attributed to Dirck van Delen).


Private collection, Vienna. - Auctioned by Im Kinsky, Vienna, 3.9.2011, lot 39. - Private ownership, Europe.


Weltkunst, IL (1979), no. 21, p. 2704, illus.