In case you need further proof that the Dutch have had a lock on innovations in the world of art basically forever, look no further than Pieter Jansz Saenredam, who died on May 31, 1665. Born in 1597, not long after the dawn of the Reformation and the changes in theology and ecclesiastic architecture it ushered in, Saenredam emerged as an artist alongside an entirely new type of cathedral. Stained glass, gold leaf, and cute cupids all got the boot as churches were purged of their accoutrements. Soaring geometric lines and a profusion of light and air became the new standard in religious buildings, and inspired Saenredam to invent a new typology: the architectural portrait.
In many ways, Saendram was born to the trade. His father, was an engraver; his closest friends were portraitists. Yet, his work remains distinct from that of his peers, foreshadowing as it does the stark beauty of minimalism. […]