Uw Kapitool, helaas! eene onvoltooide kroon, / Uw Belfroot, met den draak der kruisvaart overkronkeld, / En Bavo’s tempel, als zijn kunstjuweelen schoon.
[John Barrow (jr.)]: A family tour through south Holland: up the Rhine, and across the Netherlands, to Ostend (ed. 1839), p. 266-267
Ghent cathedral [Sint-Baafskathedraal]
Ghent is situated on the united stream of the Scheldt, the Lis and the Lieve. It is a fine old city, but, like all we have yet seen, the height of the houses and the narrowness of many of the streets give it a dull and sombre appearance.
The cathedral is a fine old structure, at least equal to the church of St. Gudule at Brussels. It is said to have been built in the eleventh century, and finished as it now appears. If we clearly understood the Suisse de l’église, the pillars and arcades which we went to see under the ground-floor of the church, were the foundations of one still older, on which they rebuilt the present edifice. They correspond exactly, so that this vaulted underground story is called a church under the cathedral.
Almost the whole interior of this fine old building is of marble of various kinds and colours; the lower parts of the walls are lined almost wholly with black marble. Its two-and-twenty chapels are mostly of marble, with doors of brass. The altarpieces and all the monuments are also of black and white marble, the former serving as pedestals or bases, on which the whole-length figures of white marble, from the quarries of Genoa, rest. One of these, a bishop of Ghent, by Quesnoy, and another, a German bishop, by Paoli, are exquisitely fine.
The pulpit is a finished piece of carving, supported by two statues of Time and Truth, under the figures of an angel holding open the ‘Book of Life’ before the face of an old man; and on each flight of steps is the figure of an angel; – the whole by Laurent de Veana. There is a picture of St. Bavon, by Rubens, but in so bad a light that the subject can scarcely be made out.
There is also a large picture of the raising of Lazarus, by Van Veen, reckoned fine; and the Paschal Lamb, by Van Eyck, and three others, are highly valued by the inhabitants. The grand altar of black and white marble, with the statue of St. Bavon, is by Vanbruggen; the two colossal statues of Carrara marble by which he is supported are by another hand. The four massive candelabra on the great altar are said to have belonged to our Charles I., and to have originally been the property of the old metropolitan church of St. Paul of London.