Emanuel de Witte
(Alkmaar, 1617-1692, Amsterdam)
Interior of the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam, ca. 1685
Oil on panel, 54.5 x 45 cm
Signed lower left: E. De Wi[…]
Manke 48
We look from the west end of the south side aisle through the central nave toward the north side aisle. Massive round pillars on elevated dark bases and large windows make the Oude Kerk a typical Dutch Gothic edifice. De Witte often painted its interior. Left, in a broad gallery is the organ, right, in the nave the chancel, where a minister is preaching. Brass chandeliers hang from the vaulting; strong light pours in through the windows largely relieved of their medieval stained glass. Not all present are heeding the sermon: two boys converse in the foreground; by the left pillar someone is even asleep, head on bench. Gentlemen then kept their hats on, and dogs were present. One drew up a chair, or one stood about. Everyone is clad in black and white, the children in brown. The sole chromatic accents are the red stockings and gauntlets and the red hatband of the man in front and the red skirt of the woman seated in front of the right pillar. Yet the picture is replete with "atmosphere": the greyish-white architecture is plunged in a warm, yellowish light; a soft tone binds all the colours together.