Dirck van Delen (Heusden, near 's Hertogenbosch, 1604/5-1671 Arnemuiden) and Anthonie Palamedesz. (Delft 1601-1673 Amsterdam)
These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED SWISS PRIVATE COLLECTION
Dirck van Delen (Heusden, near 's Hertogenbosch, 1604/5-1671 Arnemuiden)

Interior of a cathedral

Dirck van Delen (Heusden, near 's Hertogenbosch, 1604/5-1671 Arnemuiden)
Interior of a cathedral
signed and dated 'D.v.Delen.f. 1641' (lower left, on the base of the column)
oil on panel
18 ½ x 25 1/8 in. (47.1 x 63.7 cm.)
(Probably) John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (1713- 1782).
John Stuart, 1st Marquess of Bute (1744-1814), Luton Hoo, where recorded in the inventories of 1797, in the North Green Dressing Room, as 'Van Delen & Gonzales, a fine representation of the inside of a Cathedral - beautiful figures', and 1800, no. 187, North Green Dressing Room, as 'Van Delen and Gonzales, Inside of a Cathedral', and by descent to his son,
John, 2nd Marquess of Bute; Christie’s, London, 8 June 1822, lot 31, as ‘a Church Piece’, sold for 26½ gns. to the following,
Du Pré Alexander, 2nd Earl of Caledon (1777- 1839), and by descent to,
James, 4th Earl of Caledon, K.P. (1846-1884), 5 Carlton House Terrace, London.
with Mortimer Brandt Gallery, New York, 1940, where acquired by the present owner.
G. F. Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, Supplement: Galleries and cabinets of art in Great Britain, Letter III, Lord Caledon’s Collection, 1854, IV, p. 149.
F. Russell, John, 3rd Earl of Bute, Patron and Collector, London, 2004, p. 196.
Special notice

These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

Lot Essay

This impeccably preserved panel, signed and dated 1641, is an outstanding work by one of the most inspired Dutch practitioners of architectural painting. Based in Arnemuiden near Middelburg, where he served as burgomaster, van Delen devoted his entire artistic career to painting architectural subjects. He painted church interiors from around 1627 onwards, inspired both by the Antwerp tradition and by the monumental interiors painted by his contemporary in Delft Bartholomeus van Bassen (1590-1652). In van Delen’s earlier works the architecture is massive, often with heavy coffered ceilings, rendered with a dullish brown palette. As he developed, his highly refined technique came to the fore as his imaginary churches took on ever grander and more elegant proportions. By around 1640, as beautifully exemplified by this work, he was producing his most ambitious pictures, characterised by a lighter and brighter palette, meticulous attention to detail and a glossier paint surface.

In this fantastical church, vast in scale and rich in decoration, van Delen offers a wide view of the entrance, from an elevated viewpoint, looking straight down the nave towards the choir. With light pouring in from the left and into the crossing from above, the artist achieves an extraordinary sense of light and luminosity, an effect which is currently muted slightly by the old discoloured varnish which covers the paint surface. An ornate organ loft, a heraldic coat of arms and two imposing sculpted monuments mounted high up on the columns adorn the foreground. Beneath them, and dotted down the nave, elegantly dressed men women stroll admiringly through the church serving to punctuate the space and add to the overwhelming sense of space and depth. The figures are especially high quality in this example and were added by the specialist Anthonie Palamedes (1601-1673) who is known to have collaborated with van Delen on some of his best pictures. The small scale of his figures and their highly successful integration into the composition succeeds in emphasising the awe-inspiring height of the architecture.

While first recorded in the possession of John Stuart, 1st Marquess of Bute, this picture was very probably acquired by his father, John Stuart, 1st Earl of Bute, who assembled an outstanding collection of Dutch pictures. This was hung at Luton Park, the mansion designed for him by Robert Adam but left unfinished at his death. The 2nd Marquess, who evidently favoured a less dense picture hang than his father and grandfather, sent a substantial number of pictures from Luton to a twoday auction at Christie’s, 7-8 June 1822. The picture was bought at this sale by the 2nd Earl of Caledon, the calibre of whose collection can best be judged from the account of this by Dr. Waagen.

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