Gerrit Adriaensz. Berckheyde (Haarlem 1638-1698)
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Gerrit Adriaensz. Berckheyde (Haarlem 1638-1698)

The Grote Markt, Haarlem, looking south-east, with Saint Bavo's Cathedral

Gerrit Adriaensz. Berckheyde (Haarlem 1638-1698)
The Grote Markt, Haarlem, looking south-east, with Saint Bavo's Cathedral
indistinctly signed and dated 'G... Berck... 1681' (lower centre, beneath the coach and four)
oil on panel
15½ x 21 5/8 in. (39.4 x 54.9 cm.)
M. Le Rouge.
M. Nieuwenhuys; Christie's, London, 10 May 1833, lot 25 (35½ gns. Rodd for Lord Northwick).
John Rushout, 2nd Lord Northwick (1770-1859); Thirlestane House, Cheltenham, where placed in the Drawing Room; Phillip's, on the premises, 26 July 1859, lot 74 (30 gns. to Farrer).
Captain E.G. Spencer-Churchill, M.C., Northwick Park; (+), Christie's, London, 29 October, 1965, lot 79 (13,000 gns. to the present owner).
A Catalogue of the Pictures, Works of Art etc. at Northwick Park, 1864, Reprint 1908, no. 183
T. Borenius, A Catalogue of the collection of pictures at Northwick Park, 1921, no. 173.
C. Lawrence, Gerrit Berckheyde, Doornspijk, 1991, p. 36, no. 35e.
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Alexandra McMorrow
Alexandra McMorrow

Lot Essay

On the eastern end of the Grote Markt, opposite the town hall stands the 'great church' (Grote kerk) of St. Bavo's, dedicated to the patron Saint of Haarlem. Completed in 1550, the gothic cathedral and its distinctive tower appear in many depictions of Haarlem, including Berckheyde's panoramic representation (location unknown) as well as Jacob van Ruisdael's View of Haarlem (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum).

Gerrit Berckheyde painted numerous views of St. Bavo's between 1665 and 1696. Like the town hall, the church carried certain connotations for the citizens of Haarlem, representing a well-ordered, prosperous and just society, a message that is supported in the present painting by the burghers who fill the square and the shops of the city merchants and artisans that line its periphery. It also alludes to the Northern Netherlandish success in breaking free from Spanish rule given that St. Bavo's, a former Catholic church, had recently converted to Calvinist services.

The present painting appears to be closest to The Grote Markt and St Bavo's, Haarlem (Leipzig, Museum der Bildenden Künste). In both, Berckheyde's adventurous use of light is evident. He manipulates the natural effects of late afternoon light and shadow to create strong contrasts that organize the compositions and heighten the sense of atmosphere and movement.

This and other paintings in the sale (lots 101-108) were all part of the celebrated Northwick Park collection, which was first begun by John Rushout, 2nd Lord Northwick (1769-1859). As Tancred Borenius wrote, the 2nd Lord Northwick was 'a collector of very high intelligence and discrimination... he was able to avail himself of an ample fortune to buy the finest specimens of the Fine arts which came into the market.' Although he added an extensive picture gallery to his home, Northwick Park, he soon was forced to buy a second vast house, Thirlestane House, in order to house his ever increasing collection. When he died intestate, the collection was offered for sale at auction and his nephew, the 3rd Lord Northwick, bought back a small but important portion of the collection. In 1912, Captain E.G. Spencer-Churchill inherited Northwick Park and the rump of the collection from his maternal grandmother, the widow of the 3rd Lord Northwick, and over the subsequent 50 years added a further 200 paintings, which he christened the 'Northwick Rescues'. In his will he stipulated that his collection should be sold in its entirety, which it was, in a long series of sales in these Rooms in 1965 which realised well over £2,000,000.

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