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The Cover
March 4, 1998

Interior of a Church

JAMA. 1998;279(9):640. doi:10.1001/jama.279.9.640

Of the many types of painting practiced by the Dutch and Flemish artists of the 16th and 17th centuries, it is genre, perhaps, that comes most readily to mind. Other than the usual grand tableaux of knights, nobles, kings, popes, and saints, these artists from the Low Countries chose to depict common, everyday scenes from the lives of common, ordinary citizens. They were exteriors as well as interiors: courtyards, streets, and towns, as well as kitchens, taverns, boudoirs, and brothels. But peculiar to these Dutch and Flemish painters is another type as well, which is actually a refinement of genre: architectural painting, specifically, church interiors, though some landscape and townscape might be included. Such painting would seem to be tailor-made for a century in love with perspective and a people in love with the beauty of vast and ordered spaces. It could even be said that the purpose of painting seemed sometimes to be perspective itself. What saved these works, however, from being little more than building plans was an exquisite use of color, so naturally wedded to the beauty of line that the work became greater than the sum of its parts.

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