It is apt that Bartolomeus van Bassen, who specialised in painting monumental church and room interiors, was also a successful architect. He was employed by Frederick V (the exiled 'Winter King' of Bohemia) and Prince Frederick Henry, and received various other significant commissions in The Hague and the city of Arnhem, including the town hall. His architectural paintings, however, reflect a more subtle combination of fantasy and reality, often portraying what Walter Leidtke described as 'the realistic imaginary church'. Here, a vast basilica is shown from the nave looking towards the altar, which serves as an asymmetric vanishing point towards the left side of the painting. The complex orchestration of the receding spaces on each side of the nave is matched by the careful study of the effects of light, which animates the composition, and highlights the intricate and crisply-carved stone reliefs (influenced by the prints of Hans Vredeman de Vries), even highlighting the cracks and flaws in the vast stone pillars.
Van Bassen collaborated with Esaias van de Velde on around 30 extant pictures in the 1620s that included sumptuous interiors and garden parties as well as churches. Theirs was a particularly successful partnership evinced not only by the breadth of their joint output but also the quality of execution. Typically, in this unpublished example, the figures - shown praying, chattering and promenading - are not casually included but meticulously composed and seamlessly integrated into the architectural setting. Other large-scale examples of this type by the two artists include the Renaissance Church Interior in the Statens Museum voor Kunst, Copenhagen, and another, dated 1626, in the Mauritshuis, The Hague. This is one of the largest pictures of this kind on panel. It is worth noting that their output was highly prized in their own lifetime; an inventory drawn up in 1626 of the collection of Cornelis Cornelisz. van Leeuwen, from Delft, included no fewer than ten collaborative paintings by Van Bassen and Van de Velde, each costing as much as 162 florins (see G. Keyes, Esaias van den Velde, Groningen, 1984, pp. 86-7).