A preliminary sketch for this painting is in the collection of the Teylers Museum in Haarlem.
In the present painting, the figures are dressed in contemporary clothing, while usually, Springer populated his street views with 17th century figures.
In the nineteenth century, street views were a very popular genre in Dutch painting and Cornelis Springer excellent in them. His lively, picturesque street views were so much in demand, that they were ordered years in advance, in Holland as well as abroad.
In 1835, after completing his studies at the Amsterdam Academy, he became a pupil of Kasparus Karsen, a renowned painter of townscapes. Before his training, Springer already had a solid knowledge of architecture. His father Willem Springer was an Amsterdam building contractor and his eldest brother Hendrik was a professional architect who taught him architectural drawing and perspective. Like his teacher Kasparus Karsen, Springer painted partially fantasised townscapes in the early part of his career. Gradually, topographical verisimilitude became more important to him. He travelled throughout the country, making studies of Dutch towns, which turned into finished paintings in his Amsterdam studio.
Springer’s street views usually depict a characteristic part of a town, rendered with a fine eye for historical detail, and populated with many figures to add liveliness to his pictures. The present work is a good example of this. Hoorn was a port-city that blossomed during the time of the big sailing companies VOC and WIC. Its beautiful seventeenth century architecture provided Springer the perfect opportunity to show off his skills as an artist. His 1972 visit resulted in several drawings and a handful of paintings. On the current painting of the ‘Sint Sebastiaansdoelen’ he worked for eighteen days in a row. Although a 1874 drawing (fig. 1) with the same subject shows the ‘Koepoort’, this gate is not depicted in the painting. Even though Springer is known for his fantastical interpretations, in this case he painted true to nature: in 1871 the gate was demolished.
– purchased from the artist by Goupil & Co, Paris, circa 1874;
– sale Sotheby’s, New York, October 1977, where purchased by the father of the present owner, a private Dutch collection.
– W. Laanstra (et al.), ‘Cornelis Springer (1817-1891) ‘, Utrecht 1984, p. 183, cat.no. 74-3 (with ill.);
– A. Ligthart, ‘Cornelis Springer, een ontdekkingstocht langs de steden rondom de Zuiderzee’, cat.no.115, p. 96, with illustration.