Artist: Pieter Jansz. Saenredam

This is the painting that I saw and sketched in Edinburgh’s Scottish National Gallery. The use of perspective, space and height captured is wonderful. The more I sketched the painting in the gallery the more I realised it had parallels with the structures in my work.

Image result for interior of st barros church pieter jansz saenredam
Pieter Jansz. Saenredam The Interior of St Bavo’s Church, Haarlem (the ‘Grote Kerk’) 1648

It states on the National Gallery Scotland website that although the painting was based on lots of precise perspective drawings, Saenredam “deliberately distorted the proportions of the pillars and vault to increase the sense of monumental scale.” This decision is the reason the painting has such gravity.
Standing in front of the painting and looking straight forward, I could see the scene from the eyes of someone in the cathedral. Looking up at the painting I could really feel the sense of space and height. I’m not sure if the painting was hung at this height deliberately, since my individual height happened to cause this experience, but nevertheless it was is effective way to experience a painting.

Saenredam’s paintings of church interiors and town halls demonstrate his remarkable eye for architectural detail and his sophisticated use of linear perspective. He achieved a sensitive balance between topographical accuracy and pleasing design in his finished works, which were the result of meticulous preparation through carefully measured drawings.

National Galleries Scotland website

Digital sketches looking at these cathedral paintings. Trying to understand the shapes; why and how they work. I think it would be beneficial doing more linear sketches like these in my sketchbook to explore the shapes more. It is making me reconsider the shape of the structures in my paintings.


  1. I really love your blog.. Great colors & theme. Did you develop this website yourself?
    Please reply back as I’m planning to create my own site and
    would like to know where you got this from or what
    the theme is named. Thanks!

    1. Thanks so much! I use the wordpress theme ‘Eris’ and it’s been great, doing most of the work! Would recommend.

  2. Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to create a great article…
    but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and don’t manage to get anything done.

  3. Have you ever considered writing an ebook or guest authoring on other
    websites? I have a blog based upon on the same subjects you discuss and would love to have you share
    some stories/information. I know my visitors would appreciate your work.
    If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s