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Pieter Jansz. Saenredam was a painter of the Dutch Golden Age, known for his distinctive paintings of whitewashed church interiors. Saenredam's paintings show medieval churches, usually Gothic, but sometimes late Romanesque, which had been stripped bare of their original decorations after the iconoclasm of the Protestant Reformation. Although Utrecht was the largest centre of the remaining Catholic population of the mainly Calvinist United Provinces, all the old churches were retained by the Protestants. The drawing for Saenredam’s Interior of St. Martin's Cathedral, Utrecht (above) is typical. As a Catholic church the Cathedral had been highly decorated. Then, in the Dutch Revolt the church fell into Protestant hands, it was ‘cleaned’ of Catholic influences. The altarpieces and statuary were removed, and the walls and ceiling were white washed. Alternatively, the paintings of church interiors by Saenredam and other 17th century Dutch painters have been interpreted as having less to do with religion and more with the new-found interest in perspective and with the Dutch interpretation (known as Dutch Classicism) of Palladio’s theories of proportion, balance and symmetry.

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Pieter Jansz. Saenredam was a painter of the Dutch Golden Age, known for his distinctive paintings of whitewashed church interiors. Saenredam's paintings show medieval churches, usually Gothic, but sometimes late Romanesque, which had been stripped bare of their original decorations after the iconoclasm of the Protestant Reformation. Although Utrecht was the largest centre of the remaining Catholic population of the mainly Calvinist United Provinces, all the old churches were retained by the Protestants. The drawing for Saenredam’s Interior of St. Martin's Cathedral, Utrecht (above) is typical. As a Catholic church the Cathedral had been highly decorated. Then, in the Dutch Revolt the church fell into Protestant hands, it was ‘cleaned’ of Catholic influences. The altarpieces and statuary were removed, and the walls and ceiling were white washed. Alternatively, the paintings of church interiors by Saenredam and other 17th century Dutch painters have been interpreted as having less to do with religion and more with the new-found interest in perspective and with the Dutch interpretation (known as Dutch Classicism) of Palladio’s theories of proportion, balance and symmetry. More...

 
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