Theses Doctoral

Jan van der Heyden's Bricks: Art, Technology, and the City

Landsman, Rozemarijn

This dissertation offers a new reading of Jan van der Heyden’s art through an analysis of his depiction of bricks. The minuteness with which the artist rendered bricks is frequently mentioned, their significance however, both in relation to his art and in relation to the early modern Dutch city has largely gone unnoticed. This in-depth study of Van der Heyden’s work and methods not only enriches our understanding of his paintings, but also stresses that his practice as an artist was fundamentally linked to his work as an inventor of technology.

Both in his art and inventions Van der Heyden exhibited a profound interest in materials, experimentation, and the urban fabric. Additionally, this study has implications for our interpretation of the Dutch seventeenth-century painted cityscape more broadly. Cityscapes have rarely been examined in light of art theoretical treatises. Van der Heyden’s art, as well as the earliest known commentaries on his paintings however, underscore that such lack of interest is unfounded.

Van der Heyden’s bricks, it will appear throughout these chapters, are an embodiment of his broad interests and wide-raging skills. They give expression to both theory and practice, as well to the formation of a Dutch identity. In Van der Heyden’s bricks, therefore, we recognize his interest in and contributions to art, technology, and the city.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Freedberg, David A.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 19, 2023