the Nieuwezijds near the Bloemmarkt 1670-75 Oil on canvas, 45 x 61 cm Historisch Museum, Amsterdam The first paintings of canals as independent subjects were made in Holland, after 1660, in the cities of Amsterdam and Haarlem, and Gerrit Berckheyde's painting is an impressive example of this development. Looking from the Weessluis towards the north, this view shows the Nieuwezijds, bordered by the Bloemmarkt on the left and the Pijpenmarkt on the right. Both quays are lined with trees; a rowboat is being unloaded and draught horses are dragging their load over the cobble-stones. The Town Hall towers above the row of houses. The clarity of Berckheyde's composition owes much to his deft use of chiaroscuro. The shaded fa?ades of the Pijpenmarkt form a dark screen behind which the Town Hall rises, bathed in light. The dark reflections of the houses in the canal suggest depth and extend the distance between the illuminated quays on the left and right. The shadow on the Town Hall's western side serves to increase its volume, while at the same time forming an obstacle between the most important illuminated areas, namely the Bloemmarkt and the southern flank of the Town Hall. The painting is a stunning demonstration of Berckhyde^s ability to elevate topography to a higher order, without compromising accuracy. The gigantic new Town Hall of Amsterdam roused the popular imagination to such an extent that it was soon dubbed 'the eighth wonder of the world'. Following the completion of the lantern in 1665, the market was flooded with paintings depicting the colossal building. There seems to have been no lack of demand for them; Amsterdam boasted a great many rich, potential buyers. One might even say that the construction of the new Town Hall stimulated the development of the painted cityscape as an independent genre. Berckheyde made a number of paintings of the Town Hall, including several from the Dam Square, as well as five variations showing it from the Nieuwezijds. Artist: BERCKHEYDE, Gerrit Adriaensz. Painting Title: Amsterdam, the Nieuwezijds near the Bloemmarkt , 1651-1700 Painting Style: Dutch , , landscape
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