Jan Hendrik Verheyen was a Dutch painter from Utrecht who, thanks to college professor Jan Bleuland, was given the opportunity to develop his talent. Although destined to become a notary public, he was allowed to take up an apprenticeship at the carriage painter Nicolaas Osti. It was there, where he was discovered by Bleuland who made him copy 17th century masterpieces from, amongst others, Gerrit Berckheyde, and Jan van der Heyden.
Verheyen painted landscapes, church interiors and portraits and many cityscapes, in which he meticulously copied 17th century details. The compositions were contrived by himself but the details were always derived from reality. Occasionally he painted true to life cityscapes of Utrecht. The painting at hand was always believed to be a view of Haarlem. This was mainly so because of the statue of Laurens Jansz. Coster depicted on the gable of the print workshop on the corner above the bridge keeper’s lodge. A statue of Coster, being the inventor of book printing, was placed on the front of a house in Haarlem since the 17th century. (Since the late 19th century a statue of Coster was placed at the Grote Markt in front of the Saint Bavo church)
The church in the background resembles the Saint Bavo, a statue of Coster was known to be found in Haarlem and the city was situated at the river Spaarne and had in the 17th and 18th century a great number of canals. The details are accurate, the composition is fantasy. This is what is called a “Capriccio view of the city of Haarlem”.
lower left in banister J H Verheyden
Collection W.F.J. Laan no. 399
His auction Geneva Moos 19 June 1934, lot 149
W. Paech Art Dealers, Amsterdam
Private collection the Netherlands since 1936