indistinctly signed and dated lower left: A. De. Lorme 1650 and inscribed and dated on a tombstone lower centre: Hier leyt begraven Bartholomeus du Pon/ hij is gestorven des 16. Jaerhunderts Januari 1650/ en begraven Januari van het jaer
Anthonie de Lorme was born in Tournai circa 1610 and was first recorded in Rotterdam in 1627, when he served as a witness for his teacher, Jan van Vucht. He was married in the city in 1647. In 1663 the famous French purveyor of curiosities Balthasar de Monconys mentioned the artist’s work in his important travel journal: “[Il] ne fait que l’Eglise de Rotterdam en diverse veues, mais il les fait bien.” De Lorme died in Rotterdam in 1673 and he is often referred to as “the Saenredam of Rotterdam”. Dated works are known from 1639-1669.
The tradition of painted nocturnal church interiors was begun by Hendrick van Steenwyck the Elder (1550-1603) and Pieter Neefs the Elder (1578 or 1590-1655/56), continued by their respective sons, and reached its pinnacle in the work of De Lorme and to a lesser extent Daniel de Blieck (c.1600/20-1673). Around 1652, two years after this picture, De Lorme began to paint recognizable views of the Laurenskerk in Rotterdam.
Here De Lorme renders an imaginary church at night uniting a gothic nave with classical architecture while skillfully employing a one-point perspective system. Prosperous merchants and their families stroll through the space conversing with one another while admiring various views of the church strategically illuminated by candlelight. In the left foreground a large number of people gather near the entrance beside a flight of strangely placed stairs flanked by two statues that seem distinctly out of place in this post-iconoclastic space. The intense unseen light source illuminating the foreground is mysterious, and alongside the statues and merging of architectural styles, betrays the fantastic nature of the scene. Elsewhere the cast light is more realistic as in the right side-aisle where a tomb is illuminated. This tomb appears in a number of De Lorme’s pictures such as a panel, dated 1652, in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rennes. Nighttime visits to churches were a common activity at this time and testify to the new uses, often civic-minded, now imposed upon these formerly Catholic domains. While this painting thus illustrates the extent to which Protestant secularization had transformed formerly Catholic sacred spaces, it also creatively engages in contemporary debates about images in Protestant churches. More directly, above the foreground on the right one sees an organ with its shutters open suggesting that it has just been played. Painted with religious imagery, these shutters seem specifically designed to provoke questions about the role-played by pictures in a once Catholic but now Protestant church, a complex subject matter favoured by art collectors around 1650 and addressed by other successful Dutch architectural painters at precisely this time such as Emanuel de Witte (1616-1691/92). 
De Lorme’s complex painting was not intended for the art market and serves a commemorative function. As in an earlier painting completed in 1644 and dedicated to H. Dullaert, an officer of the city of Rotterdam (sold Amsterdam, Christie's, 3 November 2004, lot 23), this painting commemorates the death of Bartholomeus du Pon (died 1650), most likely a merchant in Rotterdam. This painting was either commissioned by Du Pon’s family immediately after his death or perhaps altered by the artist to suit the family’s wishes. An inscribed gravestone of Du Pon appears prominently in the middle foreground at the lower edge of the picture. Around 1650 such commemorations of the dead in architectural paintings were becoming commonplace, the most well-known examples being the many pictures of William the Silent’s tomb produced by De Witte, Gerard Houckgeest (c.1600-1661), and others. To the right of Du Pon’s gravestone appears another inscribed in a similar manner to “Johannes Salven[?].”
De Lorme’s virtuoso deployment of candlelight throughout the church interior recalls cast shadow demonstrations often found in contemporary perspective treatises such as Samuel Marolois’s Opera Mathematique first published in 1604 and Samuel van Hoogstraten’s Inleyding (1678). De Lorme’s skill in this regard readily invites comparisons to the work of other successful Dutch artists such as the genre painter Gerard Dou (1613-1675) who painted candlelight to demonstrate artistic virtuosity.
 A. Vanhalen, `Iconoclasm and the Creation of Images in Emanuel de Witte’s Old Church in Amsterdam,' Art Bulletin, June 2005, pp. 249-264.
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