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The Crypt of a Church with Two Men Sleeping
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Hendrick van Steenwijck the Younger
Flemish, possibly 1625
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, and graphite, heightened with white bodycolor on tan paper
4 13/16 x 6 1/2 in.
85.GG.42

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In the dimly lit crypt of a church, two soldiers lie sleeping on either side of a chest. A single candle lights the vaulted interior, illuminating the arches and the square tiles of the stone floor. Another flame glimmers weakly, visible through a darkened archway in the background and casting a small glow over a staircase. Hendrick van Steenwijck employed these contrasts of light and darkness to play with the viewer's sense of perspective. Using strong chiaroscuro, he guided the viewer's eye around the scene, from the brilliant glow of the column and ceiling in the middle, back through the arch to the stairs, and finally to the dark interior beyond.

Various gradations of light also emphasize the room's tones and textures. Candlelight shows off the joins in the masonry, as well as the cracks in the ceiling, the wood panels in the door, and the gleaming folds of the guard's cloak.