Paintings in which a building or a group of buildings or ruins constitutes either the main subject of the composition or plays an important role in it. The term is modern and owes much of its currency to Jantzen's fundamental survey (1910) of 16th- and 17th-century Netherlandish architectural paintings (see bibliography). Works most commonly described as architectural paintings include views of church interiors, both real and imaginary; interior and exterior views of imaginary palaces and, occasionally, country estates; and exterior views of important buildings, such as cathedrals, town halls and country houses. In some cases, especially in earlier periods, a townscape is referred to as an architectural picture. Whereas in the Middle Ages the image of the city had generally served simply as a background for religious narrative scenes, by the early Renaissance increasing interest in both ancient and contemporary architecture meant that it came to be seen as an appropriate subject for painting in its own right.
From The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: Renaissance Art.