Jan van der Heyden – Panoramic View with Medieval Town and the St Cecilia of Cologne

Jan van der Heyden is arguably the greatest cityscape painter of the Dutch Golden Age. From early on Van der Heyden also found inspiration for his art outside the Netherlands. The large church in the hearth of the town in our panoramic view is the still existing St. Cecilia of Cologne, which Van der Heyden showed in several others of his paintings as well. Imaginary landscapes with fancy architecture, such as the present, were a novelty in the seventeenth century and Van der Heyden has been credited for inventing the genre of architectural capriccio. In this capacity he had paved the way for the architectural fantasies of the eighteenth-century Italian vedute painters such as Canaletto and Francesco Guardi. The figures are by Johannes Lingelbach (1622-74). Van der Heyden’s paintings are usually difficult to date but here it is the dress of the horseman, especially his hat and jabot, that gives away an approximate date between 1665 and 1670.
It was in these years that Van der Heyden painted ‘the majority and best of his works’, according to Van der Heyden’s biographer, Arnold Houbraken.