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Catalogue Entry of Pieter Saenredam's Painting

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Pieter Jansz Saenredam (Dutch, 1597 - 1665)

Church of Santa Maria della Febbre, Rome, 1629

oil on panel

overall: 37.8 x 70.5 cm (14 7/8 x 27 3/4 in.)

Samuel H. Kress Collection


In 1609, the impendence of the United Provinces of the Netherlands from Spain was officially recognized, and it was approximately after this time that Flemish artists were most focused on depicting to their native countryside. Due to Saenredam's influence, the Dutch were preoccupied with landscape . This love for scenery is apparent due to the large quantity of landscapes that were created during this time period. The most popular scene displayed in this age depicts realistic details in an artificial manner, thus composing a natural reality. Though Saenredam was famous for his precise depiction of architectural portraits, this scene has an architectural complex but isn't just architectural painting. The impression of Church of Santa Maria della Febbre completely appeases the culture hungry landscape of the 17th century.

Saenredam's scene, Church of Santa Maria della Febbre, was painted based on a drawing from "Sketchbook of Maerten van Heemskerck" which was created in Italy a century earlier. Besides this one, Saenredam produced three other paintings based on drawings from Heemskerck's sketchbook. The first of this collection was Church of Santa Maria della Febbre.

The original work was a dull, black and white sketch, which portrayed a complex building mass placed at the Vatican . In the original drawing of Santa Maria della Febbre (Figure 1), there is a Vatican obelisk stand in the foreground. It has a bronze ball at the top . The round structure behind the obelisk is a second-century Roman mausoleum, which became known as the Church of San Andrean in the sixth century and later known as Santa Maria della Febbre . It was converted into the sacristy of Saint Peter's after 1506 and functioned as a sacristy until it was demolished in 1776 . The indistinct building, which looms on the right side of Santa Maria della Febbre is Saint Peter. It was under construction when Heemskerck drew it in the 1530s . One of Saint Peter's chapels, Cappella del Coro is located on the right of the arched entrance of Saint Peter's aisle, and the circular roof projects on its apse. On one of the buildings next to Cappella del Coro, a papal tiara hangs on the wall, adorned with ribbons that remind all od the presence of the pope.

Saenredam turned this black and white drawing into a colored version and changed the composition slightly, which led to a new feeling about the scene. The drawing is a historical document, which depicts the stage of Saint Peter's



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