© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

When Amsterdam’s fifteenth-century Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) was rebuilt after a fire in 1645, its renovated furnishings included the richly decorated oak pulpit that figures prominently in this picture. De Witte represents the imposing space as the site of social, as well as religious, congregation: while some listen intently to the preacher, a woman nurses her baby, a boy turns toward his dog, and others simply pass through the building. The slightly oblique view across the transept introduces the kind of perspective challenge that the artist characteristically posed in his works, opening glimpses into the nave through the arcades at the left. De Witte excelled at the nuanced rendering of light and shade on the surfaces of monumental Gothic interiors. Here, his delicate brushwork evokes the daylight broadly washing the walls and columns, shimmering on the brass chandelier, and penetrating the painted windows in the nave and the clear glass across the transept.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Emanuel de Witte, Dutch (Alkmaar, Netherlands 1617 - 1692 Amsterdam, Netherlands)
The Interior of the Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, with a Sermon in Progress
Work Type
c. 1665
Persistent Link
Level 2, Room 2300, European Art, 17th–19th century, Seventeenth–Century Dutch and Flemish Art
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
framed: 110 x 99.2 cm (43 5/16 x 39 1/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • (not assigned): On the base of the left column, in yellow paint: There appears to be a drawing of a head of a man and additional graffiti.
  • inscription: in black paint on base of column at right: E. DE WITTE
[Nieuwenhuys no. 36] sold; to Edward Gordon Douglas-Pennant, 1st Lord of Penryhn of Landegai (d. 1886), Penryhn Castle, Wales; by descent to Lady Janet Douglas-Pennant (d. 1997), Penrhyn Castle, Wales until 1949, sold; [Sotheby's, New York, January 27, 2011, lot 232] to Dr. Gordon Gilbert, partial and promised gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2014.

1. "Nieuwenhuys" is most likely Christian Johannes Nieuwenhuys, a dealer from Brussels.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Partial and promised gift of Dr. Gordon J. Gilbert and Michele Gilbert
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Ilse Manke, Emanuel de Witte 1617-1692, Menno Hertzberger & Co. (Amsterdam, 1963), p. 91 as cat. 60

Ingrid A. Cartwright, Dennis P. Weller, Sally Metzler, and John E. Schloder, Story & Symbol: Dutch and Flemish Paintings from the Collection of Dr. Gordon and Adele Gilbert, Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida (St. Petersburg, Florida, 2011), p. 53 as cat. 18, repr. in color p. 52

Exhibition History

Story & Symbol: Dutch and Flemish Paintings from the Collection of Dr. Gordon and Adele Gilbert, Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida, 09/17/2011 - 12/04/2011

32Q: 2300 Dutch & Flemish, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 09/08/2017; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/17/2018 - 01/01/2050

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu