Monday 12 October 2009

A Different View of Delft

Painted by one Egbert van der Poel, this melancholy image is in the National Gallery. It is A View of Delft After the Explosion of 1654 - the catastophic explosion of a gunpowder store in the town on this day (also, as it happens, a Monday) in that year. Luckily, many people were away, visting a market in Schiedam and a fair in the Hague, but the death toll certainly exceeded a hundred, and the devastation, as the painting shows, was extensive. Vermeer, who was then 21, was not affected, but another painter - Carel Fabritius, the most gifted and original of Rembrandt's pupils - was injured and subsequently died of his wounds, at the age of 32. Fabritius, who left few works behind, is best remembered for his extraordinary painting of a goldfinch, which lives in the Mauritshuis, along with Vermeer's view of Delft, that fathomless masterpiece. But look at this, by Fabritius - now there's a different view of Delft.


  1. Fabritius' death was one of the great tragedies for he was a truly experimental painter. I always fancied that, had he lived, he would have taken Dutch art in a different direction altogether and we would shower him with superlatives, as we do his master.

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