- Saenredam, Pieter Jansz
- Dutch, 1597 - 1665
Pieter Jansz. Saenredam was born in the village of Assendelft on June 9, 1597. His father, Jan, an important late mannerist engraver and draftsman, died young in 1607, after which Pieter moved with his family to nearby Haarlem. There he began his artistic training in the studio of Frans Pietersz. de Grebber (1573-1649) on May 10, 1612. After remaining there for ten years, he became a master in the Haarlem guild on April 24, 1623, of which he was an officer in 1635 and 1640, and a deken in 1642.
Saenredam is not recorded as ever having studied with a specialist architectural painter, and the interest in architecture that dominates his mature work may initially have been fostered by his contact with the mathematician and surveyor Pieter Wils. He is also known to have associated with various painter-architects active in Haarlem, most notably Salomon de Bray (1597-1664), Pieter Post (1608-1669), and Jacob van Campen (1595-1657), who subsequently designed both the Mauritshuis in The Hague and Amsterdam's town hall. Soon after his apprenticeship, Saenredam began to produce the precise and restrained architectural compositions for which he is famous. De Bie (see person bibliography) wrote in 1661 that from about 1628 the artist "devoted himself entirely to painting perspectives, churches, halls, galleries, buildings and other things from the outside as well as the inside, in such a way, after life, that their essence and nature could not be shown to a greater perfection." The date that De Bie mentions in this passage is also that of Saenredam's earliest surviving dated church interior.
The two main churches of Haarlem--Saint Bavo and the Nieuwe Kerk--were among Saenredam's favorite subjects, although he also painted churches and cathedrals in a number of other cities, including 's-Hertogenbosch, Assendelft, Alkmaar, Utrecht, Amsterdam, and Rhenen. His representations of these and other buildings have a portrait-like quality. They were based on preliminary drawings made at the site and subsequent elaborate construction drawings made with the help of straight edges and compasses. In these drawings Saenredam worked out the proportions of columns and arches and the overall perspective system. His paintings often date years later than the drawings upon which they are based. As in the instance of his painting the Church of Santa Maria della Febbre (NGA 1961.9.34), Saenredam also occasionally worked from drawings by other artists of buildings and places he had never seen. His relatively small oeuvre consists of about fifty paintings, some 150 drawings, and a few prints executed early in his career.
Saenredam married Aefje Gerritsdr. on December 5, 1638 at Bloemendael. He and his wife had one daughter, Anna. Saenredam had an impressive library of scholarly works as well as a collection of paintings and drawings, including an album of views of Rome by the 16th-century Haarlem artist Maerten van Heemskerk (see NGA 1961.9.34). He had only a few students, among them Claes Cornelisz. van Assendelft (1627-1668) in the early 1640s and Klaas Heereman the Younger in the early 1650s. It has often been argued that he asked other artists to paint figures within his architectural compositions, among them Pieter Post (1608-1699), Adriaen van Ostade, and Jan Both (c. 1615-1652). Saenredam was buried in Haarlem on May 31, 1665. [This is an edited version of the artist's biography published, or to be published, in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]
- De Bie, Cornelis. Het Gulden Cabinet van de edele vry Schilderconst. Antwerp, 1661. Reprint. Soest, 1971: 246.
- Van der Willigen 1870, 20, 261-262.
- Swillens, P.T.A. Pieter Janszoon Saenredam: Schilder van Haarlem 1597-1665. Amsterdam, 1935.
- Swillens, P.T.A. et al. Catalogue Raisonné of the works by Pieter Jansz. Saenredam published on the occasion of the exhibition Pieter Jansz. Saenredam. Centraal Museum, Utrecht, 1961.
- Saenredam 1597-1665: Peintre des Eglises. Exh. cat. Institut Néerlandais, Paris, 1970.
- Ruurs, Rob. "Pieter Saenredam: zijn boekenbezit en zijn relatie met de Pieter Wils." Oud Holland 97 (1983): 59-68.
- Dutch Court Painters: Saenredam's Great Church at Haarlem in Context. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1984.
- Ruurs, Rob. Saenredam: The Art of Perspective. (Oculi, Studies in the Arts of the Low Countries, nr. 1) Amsterdam and Philadelphia, 1987.
- Schwartz, Gary, and Marten Jan Bok. Pieter Saenredam: The painter and his time. (Translated from Pieter Saenredam: De schilder in zijn tijd, Maarssen and The Hague, 1989) Maarssen and The Hague, 1990.
- Perspectives: Saenredam and the Architectural Painters of the 17th century. Exh. cat. Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 1991.
- MacLaren, Neil. The Dutch School, 1600-1900. Revised and expanded by Christopher Brown. 2 vols. National Gallery Catalogues. London, 1991: 1:406.
- Wheelock, Jr., Arthur K. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1995: 348-349.