National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of An Architectural Fantasy Jan van der Heyden (artist)
Dutch, 1637 - 1712
An Architectural Fantasy, c. 1670
oil on oak panel
overall: 49.7 x 70.7 cm (19 9/16 x 27 13/16 in.) framed: 69.2 x 90.1 x 6.3 cm (27 1/4 x 35 1/2 x 2 1/2 in.)
Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund
On View
From the Tour: Dutch Still Lifes and Landscapes of the 1600s
Object 6 of 8

Van der Heyden specialized in architectural scenes, often recording accurate views in Holland, Flanders, and Germany or rearranging actual buildings into fantastic groupings. This scene, though, is entirely imaginary; no marble palaces are known to have existed in seventeenth-century Holland. The classical mansion reveals Italian influence but is peopled with Dutch figures. Leaving the sculpted gateway with his pack of hunting hounds, a gentleman suddenly encounters a beggar with her baby. Within the sunlit formal gardens it may be assumed that all is a dream; reality lurks outside its shadowed walls.

Blocking out his compositions in broad masses of lighted versus shaded forms, Van der Heyden depicted textures meticulously. On close inspection, one notices that every single brick can be counted!

Also an urban planner and inventor, Van der Heyden understood the practical side of architecture as well as its beauty. He designed the first street lighting in Amsterdam, was fire chief of the metropolis, and is credited with the invention of the fire hose.

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Exhibition History

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