Monday, October 28, 2013

Hooch, Pieter de

A Dutch Courtyard
oil on canvas
69.5 x 60 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washingon, DC, USA

In this painting, a woman sips from a “pass-glass,” with rings marking equal portions for passing around to share. The little girl carries a brazier of hot coals for the men to light their long-stemmed, white clay pipes. To create a stable, sheltering environment for this depiction of domestic tranquility, De Hooch emphasized the geometry of the brick paving, window shutters, and wooden fence. Over the garden wall can be glimpsed the tower of Delft’s New Church.

Pieter de Hooch (c.1629 - 1684) was a genre painter during the Dutch Golden Age. He was born in Rotterdam, the son of a mason and a midwife. His career as a painter started in Delft. As usual in his day, he had a second string to his bow besides painting: he was an assistant to a linen merchant.

His main characters are women: busy housewives, loving mothers and careful and neat maids. He is an outstanding master of interior. He specialized in decorous interiors with merry companies of people. Views through windows or corridors into other, distant rooms often featured in his work. He depicts enfilades of rooms, intimate and poetic domestic world; gentle sun light penetrates through open doors and windows. He was a contemporary of Dutch Master Jan Vermeer, with whom his work shared themes and style. His colors are warmer and softer than Vermeer’s.