View of the Westerkerk, Amsterdam
  • Date: c. 1668–72
  • Object Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on oak panel
  • Image size: 41.3 x 59.1 cm
  • Inv: P225
  • Location: East Galleries II
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Further Reading
  • Although the foremost townscape painter of his time, much of van der Heyden’s prosperity was due to his work as an inventor. He designed a street-lighting scheme and a fire engine, for example. This is an architectural portrait of the Westerkerk on the Keizersgracht, an important Dutch Reformed church in Amsterdam, and thus a notable exception to his usual practice of only loosely basing his townscapes on an actual view. Here, he defies the laws of visual perspective by painting each element with the same degree of definition, regardless of its position in space. Visual drama is conveyed by the sharp contrasts of colour, light and texture; by shadows slanting across the church façade, sharp rooftops etched against the clear blue sky, bright green trees and their leafy shadows overlaying warm red brick or dazzling whitewash, and glassy reflections on the canal. A larger version of the same composition is in the National Gallery, London.