The Interior of the Grote Kerk, Rotterdam
Signed and dated: A. DE. LORME. 1656
Oil on canvas, 44¼ x 43¾ ins. (112.4 x 111.1 cm)
H. Yates-Thomson; his sale, Sotheby’s, London, 2 July 1941, lot 207, as Anthonie de Lorme and Anthonie Palamedesz.
Sale, Christie’s, London, 16 April 1999, lot 42
With Johnny Van Haeften Limited, London, & Otto Naumann Ltd., New York, 1999
Private collection, U.S.A., 2000-2019
Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, Hidden Treasures, 27 July – 17 October, 1933, pp. 46-47, no. 72, ill.
Bernard G. Maillet, Intérieurs d’églises 1580-1720: La Peinture Architectural des Écoles du Nord, Paris, 2012, p. 169, no. M-0550.
Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, Hidden Treasures, 27 July – 17 October, 1933, no. 72
Like Gerard Houckgeest (c. 1660-1661) in Delft, Anthonie de Lorme was a prominent painter of imaginary architectural pictures before he turned, in the early 1650s, to the subject of his local church. The Grote Kerk (Great Church), originally dedicated to St. Lawrence, became his exclusive subject, as the French nobleman Balthasar de Monconys noted after visiting de Lorme’s studio in 1663. The absence of major monuments in the Laurenskerk and de Lorme’s fidelity to details (which proved useful during rebuilding after World War II) suggest that he satisfied a mostly local demand, which must have been considerable in this large port city without another important church.
The figure on the right is certainly a portrait, to judge from his features, his discreetly elegant attire, and his placement in the composition. In at least one earlier view of the Laurenskerk, a canvas in Hampshire dated 1653, de Lorme or his collaborator placed portraits to the right; the man, strongly individualised, looks meaningfully at the viewer while offering alms to a begging boy. Here, too, the theme of charity plays a part, for the three conspicuous sacks on sticks, with bells on the bottoms, were used for collections during services, and the contributions went mainly to the poor. An old man huddled over his walking stick, appears intended as a worthy recipient of alms, while the boys making a rubbing of a tomb inscription remind one that Christian virtues will be rewarded in the afterlife. All this suggests that the man on the right was a deacon of the Laurenskerk, and proud enough of that lay position to commission this canvas from de Lorme.
The main figures were once attributed to Anthonie Palamedesz. (1601-1673), the Delft genre and portrait painter who is known to have placed figures in architectural pictures by de Lorme. The present writer would prefer an attribution to a better hand, namely de Lorme’s Rotterdam contemporary Ludolf de Jongh (1616-1679).
De Lorme’s finest works date from the 1650s, when he was finding original views in the Laurenskerk under the influence of the architectural painters in Delft and (with respect to composition) Pieter Saenredam (1597-1665). The Rotterdam artist’s strong designs often feature abrupt juxtapositions of near and far (here, the entire aisle, viewed to the west, is set off by the crossing pillar), and sharp local accents, such as the free-standing barriers framing the second chapel, and the graveboards in the middle distance. Perhaps one of their family crests relates to the portrait, but this would be a coincidence, since the same graveboards occur in precisely the same place in more extensive views of the Laurenskerk, such as de Lorme’s canvas dated 1657 in the Six Collection, Amsterdam. Also familiar from other works is de Lorme’s sensitive handling of shadows (like the three cast on the column by the nearest graveboard) and the delicate play of dappled light.
Very little is known about the life of Anthonie de Lorme, who was born in Doornik around 1610 (i). He was first recorded in Rotterdam in 1627, when he served as a witness for his teacher Jan van Vucht (1603-1637), a painter of church interiors. In 1647, he married Maertje Floris in Rotterdam. Apparently de Lorme also had a shop where he is believed to have sold paintings and art supplies. The French nobleman Balthasar de Monconys mentioned de Lorme as a painter of the St. Laurenskerk in his Journal des Voyages, published in 1666 (ii). He died in Rotterdam in 1673.
i For what little documentary evidence survives see the biography in the exhibition catalogue,
Perspectives: Saenredam and the architectural painters of the 17th century, Rotterdam, Museum
Boymans-van Beuningen, 1991, p. 237.
ii “[Il] ne fait que l’Eglise de Rotterdam en diverse veues, mais il les fait bien.” Balthasar de Monconys, Journal des voyages de Monsieur de Monconys, 2 vols., Lyons, 1665-66, p.131.
Doornik c. 1610 - 1673 Rotterdam
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