H. Dullaert to whom the inscription refers to is presumably the man recorded as having been appointed an officier of the city in 1628. It seems likely that he was related to Heyman Dullaert (1636-1684), the Rotterdam artist, who was a pupil of Rembrandt and was painted by Philips Koninck in the mid-1650s (Saint Louis, City Art Museum). A similar dedication to the artist's patron is recorded on another of de Lorme's paintings: that inscribed 'voor de Comys Hoogenhuysen, 1653' sold from the collection of the Earl of Devon, Christie's, London, 27 April 1816, lot 61.
De Lorme's precise date of birth is unknown, although it was in Doornik and probably in 1610. He is first recorded in Rotterdam in 1627, when he acted as a witness for his teacher, Jan van Vucht, and he was married in the city in 1647 and died there in 1673. His earliest known picture dates from 1639 and shows a church interior that is derived from, although not identical to, the St. Laurenskerk in Rotterdam. Throughout the 1640s he painted only imaginary church interiors such as the present painting (particularly being a night scene, which appears to have been the artist's speciality at this period), and in these he was influenced by the work of his teacher, Van Vucht, as well as by Bartholomeus van Bassen. Around 1652 de Lorme painted his first real view of the interior of the St. Laurenskerk and thereafter the majority of his oeuvre consists of paintings of that church.
The impressive size of the present panel is mirrored by two other known works by de Lorme of comparably ambitious scale, again with figures by Palamedesz., who seems to have collaborated with de Lorme through the 1640s: the first measuring 117.5 x 157 cm, sold, Christie's, London, 24 April 1998, lot 74; and the second, measuring 117.3 x 151 cm. and dated 1645, formerly in the collection of the Earls of Warwick, and subsequently with Robert Noortman, Maastricht, 1998 (see also H. Jantzen, Das Niederländisches Architekturbild, Leipzig, 1910, p. 163, no. 202). The traditional subject matter of the painting, recorded on the old label on the reverse (see above), is almost certainly a later invention inferred from the dignitary depicted entering the building in the left foreground. A similarly title was formerly attached to the Interior of a church of 1650 by de Lorme and Palamedesz. in the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, which was thought to depict the tomb of Admiral van Tromp.
It is possible that the present painting is the same as that of almost identical measurements to the present work (44 x 62 duim), described as 'Een Protestande Kerk, van binnen te zien by Kaarslicht, het geen een byzondere werking van licht en bruin geeft, de ryke stoffagie door P. Palamedes, maakt te samen een geheel uit, zynde van de beste van J. de Lorme', sold for the dealer Cornelis Sebille Roos, on behalf of an anonymus client, by Philippus van der Schley, Amsterdam, 20 June 1803, lot 18, to Barend Kooy; and then subsequently sold by Koy at Posthumus, Amsterdam, 20 April 1820, lot 50, to Van den Berg on behalf of 'Lamme'. The timing of those sales certainly supports such a hypothesis, placing the painting on the market at the same time as much of the acquisitions of the 10th Duke of Hamilton (1767-1852). Indeed it is tempting to speculate that the handwritten inscription of the ultimate buyer recorded on the surviving copy of the 1820 catalogue may even be a corruption of the Duke's name.
The collection of the Dukes of Hamilton was one of the greatest of nineteenth-century Europe, formed to a considerable degree by the 10th Duke. Among the important Old Masters purchased by him were Poussin's Lamentation over the Dead Christ (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin), David's Napoleon in his Study (commissioned by Hamilton in 1812; Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art) and several paintings subsequently acquired for the National Gallery, London, including Filippino Lippi's Adoration of the Magi, Tintoretto's Christ Washing the Disciples' Feet and Rubens' Birth of Venus. In 1810 he married Susan Euphemia, second daughter of William Beckford, and inherited from his wife a large part of his father-in-law's celebrated collection, including Velázquez's Philip IV in Brown and Silver (London, National Gallery); he also purchased himself a considerable amount of Beckford's collection when it was put up for auction in 1823.