Although the Final Judgement by Jacob van Oostzanen (1475- 1533) has been artfully restored over recent years it must have appeared much more colourful shortly after its creation. To 16th century Alkmaarders it represented a depressing warning. At the end of one’s life one will be held accountable for one’s doings and actions here on earth. That determines one’s fate: heaven or hell. As over time the belief in heaven and hell lost importance Jacob’s supreme work of art inevitably lost value as well. The paintings were neglected. In the 19th century they largely ended up in the depots of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Once the fears and prejudices had been finally shed the art value of Alkmaar’s Final Judgement was once more realized. What remained was restored over the past decade. Approximately the same age is the work of the Master of Alkmaar (1490-1540): the Seven Works of Charity. The church has to make do with a copy. The original is to be found in the medieval room of the Rijksmuseum. The painting may have played a role as the starting point of a pilgrimage of devout believers. After all, St Jacob’s shell is to be seen on one of the panels. These works of art and the choir stalls, the choir screen, the pulpit and the baptismal garden, the ornamental name plates, the maquette painting, the ship’s model and the organs together constitute a valuable collection of late medieval and 17th century art. When you see it, feast your eyes!
The triptych (2004) by Pauline Bakker is also on display, made for the 750th anniversary of the town, with scenes from Alkmaar history. Its form and size are derived from the famous triptych (1542) by Maerten van Heemskerk, which was sold to Sweden in 1581. It is on display to the present day in the Lutheran Cathedral of Linkoping. In 1996, on the reopening of the restored Grote Kerk, Maerten’s painting was transmitted over the internet and printed full-sized by Kees Bolten (project Cyberspace). Eight years later Pauline replaced the printed Christian representations of Christ and St. Laurentius by secular town-views.