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The great or Saint Lawrence's church at Alkmaar

The great or Saint Lawrence's church at Alkmaar

Pieter Jansz. Saenredam (in 1661)

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  • Michael Lim asked

    Hello. My question is... What is that head figure on the wall? That face with embroidery. Please tell me about it. Thanks.

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Michael, thank you for your question. There are different ideas about the meaning of this figure. In their 1989 book about Saenredam, Gary Schwarz and Marten Jan Bok connect the head with the church organ and conclude that it represents Goliath. As such it is an hommage to King David, who conquered Goliath and also was a musician; the Book of Psalms is attributed to David. Jeroen Giltaj, who wrote a book about Saenredam in 1991, agrees that this is a possibility. Giltay however believes it can also be a so called 'Gaper', a sign which was connected to medicine and healing and thus was often found on drugstores. I hope this answers useful. Kind regards, Els


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More information

The view from the aisle of the Laurenskerk in Alkmaar is one of Saenredams last paintings. The composition is remarkable, offering us a view of the courtyard through two sets of open doors. To the right in the silent church two inconspicuous figures are engaged in conversation.

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Collection book

Collection book Order


Title The great or Saint Lawrence's church at Alkmaar
Material and technique Oil on panel
Object type
Painting > Painting > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions Width 43,5 cm
Height 54,5 cm
Artists Schilder: Pieter Jansz. Saenredam
Accession number 1849 (OK)
Credits Schenking / Donation: Willem van der Vorm 1936
Department Old Masters
Acquisition date 1936
Creation date in 1661
Age artist About 64 years old
Collector Collector / Willem van der Vorm
Geographical origin Northern Netherlands > The Netherlands > Western Europe > Europe

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All about the artist

Pieter Jansz. Saenredam

Assendelft 1597 - Haarlem 1665

Pieter Saenredam is a Haarlem painted who specialised in Dutch church interiors. His paintings are characterised by his cool use of colour and the strict,...

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