Netherlandish School, early 17th century
An Empty Church Interior
Oil on panel. 43 x 53 cm.
Dorotheum, Vienna 10.10.2010, lot 565. - Private collection, Belgium.
Divine Interiors. Experience churches in the age of Rubens, Antwerpen, Museum van den Bergh 2016.
This painting is one of very few examples in 17th century Netherlandish art in which a church interior is presented as a blank slate, devoid of altars or figures. The piece is thought to have been left “unfinished” for a later commission, but it is this effect that gives the work its specific atmosphere and was the reason for the attention it received when it was exhibited in Antwerp in 2016. The former attribution to Hendrick van Steenwijk has since been discarded, but so far, no alternative has been found. The panel is evidently the work of a highly skilled painter well-versed in architectural and perspective drawing. The depiction of light illuminating the scene from the left shows equally impressive skill. The piece presumably depicts an idealised view of the Gothic cathedral in Antwerp.