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JAN VAN DER VUCHT (1603-1637)
AN IDEAL CATHEDRAL INTERIOR
signed I V [...]
oil on panel
19.5 x 23.5 cm.
Vera Tersmeden (1892‑1987), Stockholm;
Thence by descent
THE INTERIOR OF A CATHEDRAL WITH SOLDIERS IN THE FOREGROUND
18,5 x 23,5cm , signed L.V.Vucht
Sold: 11300€ (inc buyers premium)
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IDEAL ARCHITECTURE IN THE DUTCH GOLDEN AGE
From the book” Perspective” by Hans Vredeman de Vries (1527–1606). De Vries influenced many artists, architects and artisans through introducing a new way of dealing with perspective and proportions, that release new creative possibilities.
In fact, clear borders between fiction and reality seems not to have existed in the mind of Vucht. Instead, his entire artistic endeavour was to explore meditative and intriguing images that transports the viewer into an otherworldly dimension, expanding in the mind far beyond the limits of the canvas. The sense of architectural depth and precision, the placement of the figures to create an impression of how it was to move around in these fantastical interiors; all were results of this method were the artistic freedom was the key.
Vucht often included people from all parts of society; from the begging poor to the glamorously dressed rich.
The clever contrast between the Corinthian order (to the left) withs its acanthus-clad and ornate capitals with the plainer Tuscan order (to the right) typically reference different moods in the architecture, from the celebratory to the contemplative.
This painting shows a cathedral interior in an entirely classical architecture with columns in the stern Tuscan and lavish Corinthian orders, an impressive dome and vaulted aisles leading on to even more spaces. The architecture is made out of a stone in a soft, limestone-like colour that complement the light bluish grey and whites of the chequered floor. No less than nineteen different people are wandering around in the interior; some of them praying or begging; some of them conversating and dressed in fine clothing. The combination of people from different places in society is significant. Surrounding the figures are numerous details and symbols such as the shining brass chandelier in the center; the suggestively painted ornamental embellishments with acanthus scrolls in the friezes and spandrels of the architecture; the dramatic interplay between shadow and light on the floor and in the vaults.
The more time on spend looking on this seemingly serene composition; the more one discovers its complex relationships between movement, space, light and symbolic power.
The striking perspective directs the eye both to the center and beyond; but at the same time invites the viewer to the figures and numerous details. The symmetry is not slavish; note that the brass chandelier is placed slightly more to the right – a subtle way of balancing the strictness of the geometry with the more human approachability of the irregular.
With merely fifty-five signed or attributed works, much still remains to be discovered with the art of Jan Van der Vucht. With this painting added to his legacy however, new research possibilities and questions arises that can add valuable knowledge to this exciting time in the history of art where architecture, ideals and reality all come together in one harmony. And regardless of its intended intellectual content and references, as a piece of art it requires no explanation to convey its mystical and beautiful message to the viewer.