This stately panel by Hendrick van Vliet depicts the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft from the west door. For Van Vliet's contemporaries, the Nieuwe Kerk was revered as the resting place of Willem the Silent, the leader of the Dutch revolt, who was assassinated in 1584. In the present work, his elaborate tomb, commissioned by the States-General from Hendrick de Keyser in 1614, is visible on the far side of the church. Yet Van Vliet's Nieuwe Kerk is not a solemn place, as groups of figures gather sociably throughout.
Supporting the attribution to Van Vliet on the basis of firsthand examination is Walter Liedtke, who notes that the figures and likely some of the church furniture are by another hand. A side-by-side comparison of this painting and Interior of the Oude Kerk, Delft of 1660 by Van Vliet, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. 1976.23.2), supports these conclusions.
Furthermore, an examination by Michael Gallagher of the Paintings Conservation department of the Metropolitan Museum determined that the signature and date on this painting are original (16 October 2012). As noted by Liedtke, the panel's date of 1662 corresponds with Van Vliet's exploration of deeply receding church interiors in the early 1660s. To create a monumental space yet prevent perspectival distortion along the edges, Van Vliet included a framing arch, effectively drawing the eye of the viewer through the Nieuwe Kerk to the tomb of the 'Father of the Fatherland'.
Signature: signed and dated 'H. van der vliet. 1662' (lower right, on the pew)
W. Liedtke, Architectural Painting in Delft, Doornspijk, 1982, p. 113, no. 191, as 'Attributed to Hendrick van Vliet'.
PROPERTY OF DR. AND MRS. SAMUEL KARR
S.K.M. Powell; Sotheby's, London, 21 March 1962, lot 35 (£600 to Kauffman).
with Elizabeth Drey, New York, 1980, from whom purchased by the present owners.