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Still life of fruit and a pie on a table

The Royal Collection has a stunning collection of seventeenth century Dutch art

Jan van der Heyden (Gorinchem 1637-Amsterdam 1712)

The South-West Approach to the Town of Veere with the Groote Kerk 1665-66

RCIN 405950

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Veere was a small, walled and moated town in Zeeland on the strait between Walcheren and Noord Beveland. However, this is no topographical view of the town. The Groote Kerk is entirely accurate, as is the general effect of brick fortifications and drawbridges, however, the palace to the right and the circuit of high ground leading from it towards what appears to be a Roman aqueduct are all entirely imaginary.

Van der Heyden used monuments from cities lying at some distance from his native Amsterdam – Cologne, Düsseldorf and Veere – more freely than local ones. His patrons, mostly also from Amsterdam, might recognise a far-off church, but would happily accept any urban context the artist chose for it. On the other hand this view has nothing of the caprice about it: it feels like a real Dutch town, whether or not the original owner knew it or thought of it as Veere. There are untended, and therefore picturesque, elements in this city view – a beggar, some vegetation growing though old brickwork – but the general effect is of neatness, order, security and prosperity.