PIETER JAN VAN LIENDER (Utrecht 1727 – Utrecht 1779)
A View of the Stadsbuitenwal in Utrecht seen from the North-East, with the “Sonnenborgh” Bastion to the right, the St. Servaas Tower, and the Spire of the Nicolai Church
signed and dated P.J.VLiender 1758 in the lower right; inscribed SOL TAVS … A … / S
oil on oak panel
15 x 21 ⅗ inches (38 x 55 cm.)
The artist specialised in topographical views and is known to have painted Rotterdam, Delft, Gouda, Rhenen, Emmerich, Amsterdam and his native town of Utrecht. His views of the inner city of Utrecht date mainly from the 1750s and 1760s, when he was living on the Oudegracht. After an apprenticeship with his uncle Jacob van Liender and with his brother Paulus, and possibly with Cornelis Pronk, he travelled through France and made trips along the Rhine in Germany in 1752, 1753 and 1763. In an extensive decorative cycle that Van Liender painted for the Regentenkamer of the Diaconie-Weeshuis, Breestraat 36, Utrecht (since 1954 in the Centraal Museum, Utrecht), he combined elements of the Utrecht cityscape with foreign elements and capriccio views. Van Liender was registered as a member of the Utrecht Guild in 1759.
The composition of the present painting is based on a detailed preparatory drawing by the artist, which is in the Utrecht City Archives (inv. no. 36408; 167 x 273 mm; the verso dated 3 juni 1757). The Utrecht Archives also possess a watercolor after the present painting by the Utrecht artist Jacob Versteegh (1730-1816), which is dated 1758 (inv. no. 36410).
The construction of the Sonnenborgh Bastion was decreed by the Emperor Charles V in 1544. Together with three other bastions, Manenborgh, Sterrenborgh and Morgenster, the fortification was designed by the architect Willem van Noort. As from 1639, Sonnenborgh became a part of Utrecht University and housed the botanical gardens until 1724. In the course of the 1850’s, the great Dutch physicist and meteorologist Buys Ballot turned Sonnenburgh into the university’s astronomical observatory, and subsequently made it the headquarters of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute (KNMI), founded by him in 1854.
After the KNMI moved to De Bilt in 1897, Sonnenburgh remained an observatory and nowadays houses a museum dedicated to astronomy and meteorology. The name “Stadsbuitenwal” is no longer in use today. Much of what used to be the Stadsbuitenwal was filled up during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Its course ran along today’s Weerdsingel, Wittevrouwensingel, Maliesingel, Tolsteegsingel and Catharijnesingel.