Hendrick (Cornelisz.) van Vliet

Vliet, Hendrick (Cornelisz.) van
(b Delft, 1611–12; d Delft, bur 28 Oct 1675).

Dutch painter. He is the only living artist discussed in Dirck van Bleyswijck’s contemporary description of Delft, where he is said to have studied with his uncle, the portrait painter Willem van Vliet (?1583/4–1642), and then with Michiel van Mierevelt. From 1632 to c. 1650 van Vliet practised portraiture in a conservative South Holland style (e.g. Portrait of a Woman, 1650; Amsterdam, Rijksmus.). Around 1651 he turned to painting interior views of actual churches, mostly the Oude Kerk or the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft. His earliest known dated architectural picture, the Pieterskerk in Leiden (1652; Brunswick, Herzog Anton Ulrich-Mus.), is one of about 20 paintings representing churches in Leiden, Haarlem and Dutch towns other than Delft

Van Vliet followed the example of Gerrit Houckgeest, whose portraits of Delft church interiors and their tomb monuments both met and stimulated a demand for such pictures. Like his contemporary Emanuel de Witte, van Vliet adopted Houckgeest’s ‘two-point’ perspective scheme, in which the architecture ascends high in the foreground and recedes obliquely to the sides. However, van Vliet did not emulate Houckgeest’ s goal of fidelity to the architecture, and in such characteristic works as the Pieterskerk pictures (another, of 1653, is in Sarasota, FL, Ringling Mus. A.), the Oude Kerk in Delft (1654; Amsterdam, Rijksmus.) and the Oude Kerk in Delft (c. 1658–60; The Hague, Mauritshuis) he arbitrarily increased the apparent depth of the view and the viewer’ s distance from the picture plane. The columns are stretched vertically and are frequently placed at will, as are epitaphs, hatchments, pulpits and occasionally tombs. During the 1650s and early 1660s van Vliet frequently employed a painted archway, a trompe l’oeil curtain or both devices together to enhance the illusionistic space of his church interiors, which was complemented by his concentration on the cracked, rubbed, porous texture of the stone and a suggestion of damp atmosphere. Van Vliet’s palette is often cooler than either Houckgeest’s or de Witte’s, favouring greenish tones and pervasive shadows penetrated by thin shafts of sunlight.

After the 1650s van Vliet’s style could be stiff or careless, as in the numerous small pictures hastily produced in his later years. His distinctive figures, as well as his inclusion of dogs and such favourite motifs as groups of children and freshly dug graves, help to separate van Vliet’s unsigned paintings from those by followers such as Cornelis de Man (1621–1706).


H. Jantzen: Das niederl ndische Architekturbild (Leipzig, 1910)
W. A. Liedtke: Architectural Painting in Delft: Gerard Houckgeest, Hendrick van Vliet, Emanuel de Witte (Doornspijk, 1982)