A View of Delft, with a Musical Instrument Seller's Stall

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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This very small and very unusual painting shows the view of the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft as though through a wide-angle lens. The effect is emphasised by two musical instruments, set out on a table by the man – probably a maker of, or dealer in, such instruments. The violin (or possibly a viola da gamba) has been dramatically foreshortened – painted as though it’s receding into the picture space – giving the impression that it is very close to the viewer. This effect, combined with the church in the middle ground and the lines of sight disappearing off into the distance on either side, has led many art historians to conclude that Fabritius designed the image to create a specific optical illusion. It was probably made to be fitted into a viewing box and looked at through a lens or peephole.

The National Gallery, London



A View of Delft, with a Musical Instrument Seller's Stall




Oil on canvas stuck onto walnut panel


H 15.5 x W 31.7 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Presented by The Art Fund, 1922

Work type


Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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