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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Neo-Baroque in the Swartland

I have sketched town halls and churches in Rotring pen, but painting the all-white very complicated Swartland Dutch Reformed Church building in its entirety was too ambitious a project, thus I offer one wing of the building! You can look at a photograph of this immensely beautiful church by searching the Malmesbury Historic Route on Google. This church was the flagship, center point and tallest structure before the grain silos started to dominate the townscape.

The style is neo-Gothic, also called Victorian Gothic which began in England in 1740. The Swartland church, one of the oldest in the country was built in 1745. In this style Gothic and Medieval forms are prefered above classical architecture. In Victorian times Classical was seen as liberal and modern, while Baroque was associated with conservatism, making it the perfect choice for seriously conservative churches.

I loved this wing of the church which created a cool quiet corner with the large tree still in its winter-skeleton mode. In my painting you can see one of those very cute Medieval-style concrete curiosities on the gable. They decorate the roof all round, each a different design, and some seem to carry bells or mirrors. I will do some more research, as Gaudi who loved Medieval ornamentation also used a lot of them in Barcelona in the early 20th century.


  1. This is beautiful Marie and you've captured it excellently. Is this church still in use?

  2. Hi Maree, yes, it is in use. It is worth downloading the Pdf file with 18 beautiful historical buildings in Malmesbury. There are also a great many restored Victorian homes there.

  3. Marie, this is so lovely. I am immediately drawn in by the cool palette choice. I always find architecture truly interesting, and this church with its statues and/or bas reliefs is no exception.

  4. Wow, Marie!
    This has a wonderful snowy feel,
    yet under a sunlit sky.
    Awesome structure- the church.
    Thanks for taking us there.
    I have dear friends in South Africa.
    Now I can enjoy your local scenery
    via your great paintings.

  5. That bare winter tree is the perfect compliment for all that ornate decoration on this building. Beautiful!

  6. Oh, Marie - you should do LOTS of architectural paintings! This is beautiful, and educational for me, who knows nothing about your corner of the world. I love it. And the tree is very graceful and believable!

  7. In reply to your question on my recent post, you are never going to believe this Marie - but I took a new Moleskin sketchbook (60 pages)with me and simply worked my way right through it!!! Some simply pen sketches, some double spread watercolour and pen, lots of notes and at the end some photos. They covered dancers, children, rivers, animals and birds, landscapes including Table Mountain from the seashore, the Kimberley mines, Augrabie falls, places we stayed and rock art in the Cederberg Mountains. In addition I took a hot pressed watercolour pad to do botanical flowers both at the Kirstenbock Gardens and in Port Elizabeth where I stayed with friends for one week either side of my sketching tour. Wonderful. You can see some sketches by linking onto both South Africa Scenery and wild life under my long list of labels. Thanks for your interest. Even did a white church way out amongst the saltpans just like your own lovely painting.

  8. Marie,
    I too enjoy reading all about your beautiful country and its many special places. This painting is so pretty. The delicate branches of the tree and the glistening light on the church lend a gem like quality to the entire painting.

  9. Congratulations on your sensitive paintings ,been a pleasure visit you.
    A kiss from Spain.


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