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Cornelis Springer, the greatest Dutch architectural painter of the 19th century grew up in a family of architects and building contractors in Amsterdam. His brother Hendrik taught him the art of architectural drawing at an early age. He was inspired by his tutor Kasparus Karsen (1810-1896) from whom he received lessons from 1835 until 1837. Springer initially painted fantasy town views which followed the contemporary trend of idealizing the past and recreating a national heritage. From the early 1850s onwards, Springer abandoned the fantasy element in his work and concentrated on existing topographical locations, following an increasing interest in topographical accuracy from collectors at the time.
Around 1850 Springer had reached such fame that he only worked on commission for private collectors and art dealers. A waiting list of two years in this period was testimony to the great popularity of his work. A patron would choose a composition on the basis of his sketches, after which Springer would paint the version in oil. He had a preference for certain sizes, often using panels or canvases measuring 50 x 41 cm. and 31 x 41 cm. From his notebooks it can be concluded that he spent an average of twenty days to finalize a painting of this size.
The present lot shows all the artistic and technical skills that Springer is famous for: the masterful play of strongly contrasting light and shadow, the detailed depiction of the historical gables, the abundance of architectural details and the lively, imaginative staffage, with the group of figures in the foreground leading the eye into the depths of the composition, where the light is most abundant and the texture of the masonry is of the highest degree.
There are two more works known by Springer which depict the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. Both these works are dated, one 1844 and the other 1871. Given the fact that the present lot is a precise architectural representation of the Oude Kerk it is likely that this work was painted around 1850. Springer stopped painting fantasy architecture in these years and started painting realistic views of Amsterdam of which the present lot is a fine example.