Friday, August 31, 2007
Pieter de Hooch (1629-1684)
Dutch painter, was born in 1629, and died in Amsterdam probably shortly after 1677. He was a native of Rotterdam, and wandered early to Haarlem and the Hague. In 1654 we find him again at Rotterdam, where in that year he married a girl of Delft, Jannetje van der Burch. From 1655 to 1657 he was a member of the painter's gild of Delft, but after that date we have no traces of his doings until about 1668, when his presence is recorded in Amsterdam. His dated pictures prove that he was still alive in 1677, but his death followed probably soon after this year. De Hooch is one of the kindliest and most charming painters of homely subjects that Holland has produced. He seems to have been born at the same time and taught in the same school as van der Meer and Maes. All three are disciples of the school of Rembrandt. Houbraken mentions Nicolas Berchem as De Hooch's teacher. De Hooch only once painted a canvas of large size, and that unfortunately perished in a fire at Rotterdam in 1864. But his small pieces display perfect finish and dexterity of hand, combined with great power of discrimination. Though he sometimes paints open-air scenes, these are not his favourite subjects. He is most at home in interiors illuminated by different lights, with the radiance of the day, in different intensities, seen through doors and windows.
He thus brings together the most delicate varieties of tone, and produces chords that vibrate with harmony. The themes which he illustrates are thoroughly suited to his purpose. Sometimes he chooses the drawing-room where dames and cavaliers dance, or dine, or sing; sometimes - mostly indeed - he prefers cottages or courtyards, where the housewives tend their children or superintend the labours of the cook. Satin and gold are as familiar to him as camlet and fur; and there is no article of furniture in a Dutch house of the middle class that he does not paint with pleasure. What distinguishes him most besides subtle suggestiveness is the serenity of his pictures. One of his most charming was the canvas formerly in the Ashburton collection, now burnt, where an old lady with a dish of apples walks with a child along a street bounded by a high wall, above which gables and a church steeple are seen, while the sun radiates joyfully over the whole. Fine in another way is the Mug of Beer in the Amsterdam Museum, an interior with a woman coming out of a pantry and giving a measure of beer to a little girl. The light flows in here from a small closed window; but through the door to the right we look into a drawing-room, and through the open sash of that room we see the open air. The three lights are managed with supreme cunning. Beautiful for its illumination again is the Music Party, with its contending indoor and outdoor lights, a gem in the late A. Thieme collection at Leipzig. More subtly suggestive, in the museum of Berlin, is the Mother seated near a Cradle. A Card Party, dated 1658, at Buckingham Palace, is a good example of Dc Hooch's drawing-room scenes, counterpart as to date and value of a Woman and Child in the National Gallery, and the Smoking Party, formerly in Lord Enfleld's collection. Another very fine example is the Interior with two women, bought by Sir Jtilius Wernher. Other pictures later in the master's career are - the Lady and Child in a Courtyard, of 1665, in the National Gallery, and the Lady receiving a Letter, of 1670, in the Amsterdam Museum (Van der Hoop collection). [Adapted from Encyclopedia Britannica (1911)]
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