Dirck van Delen

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Family in the Nieuwe Kerk of Delft, 1645

Dirck van Delen or Dirck Christiaensz van Delen (c.1605, Heusden – May 16, 1671, Arnemuiden) was a Dutch Golden Age painter who specialized in architectural painting.


According to the early artist biographer Arnold Houbraken, van Delen was born in Heusden.[1] It is not clear with whom he apprenticed and both Frans Hals and Hendrick Aerts (who also specialized in architectural paintings) have been proposed as his masters. More plausible are studies under Pieter van Bronckhorst and/or Bartholomeus van Bassen in Delft.[2]

Shortly after he was born his parents moved to Breda. He married in Middelburg in 1625. In 1626 he moved to Zeeland and became master of the toll house in Arnemuiden. From that year until his death he was registered in Arnemuiden where he sat on the town council, most of the time as burgomaster.[3] He was a member of the Middelburg Guild of St. Luke from 1639-1665. In 1666 he gave to the Antwerp Chamber of rhetoric Olyftack a painting, which he had made in collaboration with the painter Theodoor Boeyermans. Two years later he became a member of the Olyftack.[2]

HIs pupils included Daniël de Blieck and Hans Jurriaensz. van Baden.[3]

He was widowed three times and had at least one son, but none of his children survived him.[3]


Elegant Figures in a Loggia, 1635

Van Delen's work consists almost entirely of architectural paintings of imaginary palaces and church interiors. His earliest paintings of palace scenes were influenced significantly by the work of Hans Vredeman de Vries and his son Paul Vredeman de Vries. He also painted church interiors, in which he initially showed an influence of the paintings by Hendrick Aerts after the architecture prints of Jan van Londerseel. His church interiors are in style also close to those of Bartholomeus van Bassen. After 1630 van Delen’s style became more exuberant and palace exteriors became his favourite subject. Van Delen’s palette also became lighter and brighter. Around 1640 van Delen produced his most ambitious works, which were more sober in colour. Thereafter his output rapidly declined.[3]

The staffage of his works has at times been attributed to other painters, such as Anthonie Palamedesz and Dirck Hals. There is some doubt about these attributions as van Delen lived in relative isolation and it would not have been easy for him to collaborate with these artists. He probably painted most figures himself and in old inventories only figures by Poelenburch and a certain Gerards are mentioned.[2] Van Delen is believed to have collaborated with the Antwerp painter Gonzales Coques, who painted the staffage, on the painting Interior with figures before a picture collection.[4]

Van Delen had an important influence on succeeding architectural painters in Antwerp.[3]

His works hang in various museums, including the Rijksmuseum, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Museum Catharijneconvent, and the Hermitage Museum. There is a church Interior by this painter in the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida. A flower still life by him was previously held at the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen.[2]

His painting "Dives and Lazarus" was discovered in a cottage near Welshpool, Wales, and is expected to fetch more than £100,000 at auction.[5]


  1. ^ Dirck van Delen biography in De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen (1718) by Arnold Houbraken
  2. ^ a b c d Dirck van Delen at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (Dutch)
  3. ^ a b c d e Bernard Vermet. "Delen, Dirck van." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 1 Feb. 2014.
  4. ^ Interior with figures before a picture collection at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (Dutch)
  5. ^ "Mid Wales Dutch master painting expected to fetch £100,000". BBC News. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 

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