A Hidden Painting – History of the Reformation of the Jacobikerk in Utrecht

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We live in a time of increased tensions between different groups of our society, but this isn’t the first time our country, the Netherlands, has been confronted with such a situation. During the Reformation, the greatest period of religious upheaval in the history of the nation, there was also great unrest in the population. However, just as is the case today, there were also voices calling for peace and tolerance then.

Truus van Bueren and Corinne van Dijk are researching the history of the Reformation in Utrecht, and particularly the special role of the Jacobikerk during this time. Our point of departure is a painted text panel showing a biblical passage, behind which a medieval painting is hidden. The painting shows a Mass of Saint Gregory, and the presence of praying portraits also makes it a memorial piece. Technical research, archival research and comparative research into similar works of art and early protestant text panels yielded surprising discoveries, new insights and questions.

We delved into the sermons of Hubert Duifhuis (c. 1515-1581), the priest/preacher under whose leadership the catholic Jacobi Parish became a protestant church. The sermons are still relevant today. Duifhuis did not mince his words, and argued that every believer could live their lives as he or she saw fit. He abhorred and rejected every attempt to control and influence the way others practiced their religion, regardless of who they were or in which church they chose to worship.

Our research and findings were published in our book (in Dutch), Van schilderij naar tekstbord. Verbeelding van de Reformatie van de Jacobikerk. The book was presented during the symposium Tolerantie en verdraagzaamheid in historisch perspectief, which was held in October 2017 in the Jacobikerk.

To finish our research and publish the book we need your help! Will you help us show how objects can play an important role in exploring the history of the Reformation in Utrecht? Support this amazing research project. Donate and help us unlock part of Utrecht’s cultural history for the public!

All donations, including ones smaller than 25 euros, are welcome and very much appreciated!

"Passion is a keyword in this unique book – and passion also characterizes this beautiful project. Science begins with the discovery and disclosure of important sources, and it is with great respect and conviction that I recommend this project to you all."


- Prof. dr. Frits van Oostrom

Want to know more?

Visit our website (Dutch only) for additional information about the project, for sneak peaks into the history of the research, and for further endorsements by the ambassadors of our project. For questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Ambassadors of this project

Charlotte Dikken