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The interior of St Janskerk at Gouda

oil on canvas
110.0 × 128.7 cm
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1933
Gallery location
17th Century & Flemish Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International
Church architectural painting was a highly specialised field in which a number of Dutch painters, including van Vliet, excelled. Each church had its own identity and local significance which the artist was expected to convey. This exquisite study of St Janskerk at Gouda is van Vliet’s only known painting of the sixteenth-century church, which is dedicated to St John the Baptist, patron saint of Gouda. The church’s austere interior reflects the iconoclastic stripping of sculptures and paintings undertaken by the Calvinists at the time of its acquisition in 1573. The open grave recalls John Calvin’s observation that the world is ‘but a tomb’.