Description

The print bearing this title commemorates the establishment of the church of the Remonstrants at Amsterdam in 1630. It shows the building, as it were, still under construction with one wall removed and various activities going on at the same time. Elements of allegory are added with the representations, held aloft by angels, of God’s all-seeing eye set within a book which can only be the Bible on one side, and the hat (or cap) of freedom (representing freedom of conscience), on the other. The architecture itself expresses beliefs held by the community, and the human figures in the picture equally combine reality with symbolism. 

An anonymous poem in Dutch, with Latin and French translations beside it, is engraved in the lower margin. It admonishes the reader that true piety resides in the heart and requires neither ostentation nor elaborate ceremony. These lines were specially written to be engraved with this image by Joost van den Vondel who wrote two other poems for the occasion, all published anonymously. 

The plate is signed with the initials ‘F.Br. fe[cit]’, and the artist has been identified as Franz Brun, a native of Strasbourg who lived and worked in Amsterdam. The Remonstrants, who refused to believe in the doctrine of predestination, had lost the struggle against orthodox Calvinism at the Synod of Dort in 1619. Officially persecuted and reviled, they maintained their faith in secret and attracted many of the most distinguished people in Dutch society. 

At Amsterdam they were tolerated by the civic rulers who, though themselves Calvinists, occasionally managed to oppose the church authorities. Allowing the Remonstrants to build this mainly wooden church is an example of this enlightened attitude. However, the publication of this print, exhibited at the inauguration of the church, with its provocative title, its symbolism, and the verses proclaiming the tenets of the Remonstrants, appeared to the burgomasters a rather too blatant advertisement. They confiscated it, but later relented and returned the copperplate to its owner, the bookseller and publisher of Vondel’s works, Abraham de Wees. Beudeker includes this print among others showing religious buildings in Amsterdam.

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