On show

17 februari - 10 juni 2018

Masterpieces of Great St Lawrence’s Church

ARCHIVE- In 2018 we celebrate the 500th anniversary of Great St Lawrence’s Church here in Alkmaar. Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar will kick off the celebrations of this anniversary year with an exhibition of views of St Lawrence’s. Works by two renowned Golden Age artists, Salomon van Ruysdael and Pieter Saenredam, will be shown alongside new work by two contemporary photographers: Hans van der Meer and Karin Borghouts.

Ruysdael and Saenredam in Alkmaar
Numerous artists have depicted Alkmaar’s Great St Lawrence’s Church since it was built. Among them were two well-known and celebrated painters of the Golden Age. Salomon van Ruysdael painted several views of the church’s exterior. A great many of these works are now in foreign or private collections. Last year, with the support of the Rembrandt Society, we were able to acquire the earliest of Ruysdael’s townscapes. Pieter Saenredam painted and drew the interior of the church a number of times. Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar has owned a large church interior by Saenredam for a very long time. Van Ruysdael’s and Saenredam’s views of the church are the centrepiece of a special exhibition being staged this spring.

Gezicht op de Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk van Alkmaar vanuit het noorden, 1644, Salomon van Ruysdael
Salomon van Ruysdael, View of Great St Lawrence’s Church, Alkmaar, from the North, 1644, oil on panel, 61.6 x 93.4 cm                                                  

Contemporary photography
Hans van der Meer(Leimuiden, 1955) researched the function of St Lawrence’s today in a series of photographs. In Ruysdael’s day the church could be seen from many miles around; urban development has meant that it is now surrounded by buildings and can only be seen in the centre of the city. The sight of the historic building reminds us of our temporary presence on Earth. Its significance as a landmark has shifted from space to time. The church will be there a hundred years from now, but we will be long gone. Van der Meer captured the changing light in St Lawrence’s in a video, exploring the way painters like Ruysdael and Saenredam played with the same light.

Karin Borghouts (Kapellen BE, 1959) took photographs of the interior of Great St Lawrence’s Church. Her monumental photographs blend photography and art and are full of references to painting. Her photographs are silent witnesses to an ever-changing reality.

Pieter Jansz Saenredam, Interieur van de Grote of Sint Laurenskerk te Alkmaar, ca. 1665, coll. Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar
Pieter Saenredam's interieur of the church in approx 1665

Karin Borghouts, De Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk te Alkmaar, 1 juni 2017
Karin Borghouts, Great St Lawrence’s Church, 2017

Salomon van Ruysdael Route
Salomon van Ruysdael painted thirteen exterior views of Great St Lawrence’s Church. We know the whereabouts of nine of them but the locations of the other four are unknown. Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar has been able to borrow and exhibit eight paintings. In collaboration with Harry de Raad (Regionaal Archief Alkmaar) and Peter Bitter (Monumentenzorg en Archeologie van de gemeente Alkmaar), Christi Klinkert (Curator of Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar) was able to work out where Van Ruysdael sat while he made sketches as preparation for the paintings he made in his workshop.

Visit the St Lawrence
Until 20 April, the Great St Lawrence's Church in Alkmaar is limited open to the public (see here). From 21 April you can temporarily admire the side panels of the Laurentius altarpiece by Maarten van Heemskerck in the context of 500 years of the Grote Kerk. In the small hall of Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar a focus exhibition will be held on Van Heemskerck and the creation of the largest triptych ever in the Northern Netherlands is made: Homecoming of a masterpiece.


Our special thanks go to the Mondriaan Fonds, Steering Group '500 jaar Grote Kerk', Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Noord-Holland, Alkmaar City Council, all lenders and Regionaal Archief Alkmaar.

Ruysdael & Saenredam runs from 17 February to 10 Juni 2018 in Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar


Salomon van Ruysdael verlevendigde zijn stadsgezichten en landschappen altijd met sprekende details. Het ooievaarsnest op de toren van de kapel van de Middelhof is hiervan een mooi voorbeeld. Eén ooievaar is opgevlogen naar de westzijde van de Grote Kerk.
Het ooievaarsnest op de toren van de kapel van de Middelhof


Schilderde Pieter Saenredam dit interieur zelf? Of werd het door iemand anders afgemaakt...
Lees meer hierover


The Great Church as a landmark

Hans van der Meer, Sint Sebastiaanstraat, Alkmaar, 13 augustus 2017, 11:55 uur
Hans van der Meer, Sint Sebastiaanstraat, Alkmaar, 13 August 2017, 11:55 a.m.



Bij de tentoonstelling verschijnt een mooie catalogus. Verkrijgbaar vanaf 17 februari in onze Museumwinkel voor € 17,95