Art/ Collection/ Art Object

A Woman and Two Men in an Arbor

Artist:
Pieter de Hooch (Dutch, Rotterdam 1629–1684 Amsterdam)
Date:
ca. 1657–58
Medium:
Oil on wood
Dimensions:
Overall 17 3/8 x 14 3/4 in. (44.1 x 37.5 cm); painted surface 17 x 14 3/8 in. (43.2 x 36.5 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Bequest of Harry G. Sperling, 1971
Accession Number:
1976.100.25
Not on view

While not in good condition and a minor work by De Hooch, this panel is interesting for its place in the artist's development. It dates from about 1657–58 and, like The Visit (29.100.7), represents a transitional phase between De Hooch's tavern scenes of the early 1650s and his domestic interiors and courtyard views of about 1658 onward. The earlier works recall Haarlem-style genre pictures in which figure groups dominate and largely define the space, and strong contrasts of light and shadow enrich a restricted palette (The Met's panel by Pieter Quast, A Company of Merrymakers, 1973.155.1 is a good example). In De Hooch’s work, by contrast, the illumination is fairly even throughout (the paint has probably darkened with age in the shadows of the arbor), and local colors create a rich effect. The woman's wine-red jacket, set off by the deep green foliage, is echoed by roses to the left. Other color accents include the smoker's orange-red stockings, the woman's blue ribbons, and the patch of blue sky.

The hostess holds a pitcher and a glass of wine. The young man, his left arm jauntily akimbo, holds a clay pipe and responds to the woman's smile. In front of him on the table are an open packet of tobacco and a pot of coals for lighting up. The older man behind him, who appears to be reading a letter, may be serving as a chaperone for the young woman, whose attire is modest and middle-class. The young man must be stopping by briefly, since he has not removed his hat or sword (the latter, and his leather jerkin, or kolder, suggest that he is a soldier). The chair and cushion have been brought from inside to this cozy corner of a garden behind a private house.

The subject is one of innocent courtship, and in this the work differs from many of De Hooch's amorous scenes of about the same date (such as The Visit) and earlier, and from the purely domestic pictures that he painted from about 1657 onward. Like Jacob van Loo (1614–1670) and Gerbrand van den Eeckhout in Amsterdam, who in the early 1650s depicted socializing couples on garden terraces. De Hooch in this painting modernizes the tradition of Merry Companies set in gardens in a way that is personal but also consistent with current trends. The ostentatious garden parties painted in the first quarter of the century by David Vinckboons, Willem Buytewech (1591/92–1624), Esaias van de Velde (1587–1630), and Dirck Hals are recalled by the arbor, but in other respects De Hooch has brought the romantic theme of the Garden of Love down to earth in Delft.

[2016; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
Inscription: Signed (lower left, largely illegible): P. [de hoogh?]
David P. Sellar, London (until 1894; sale, Christie's, London, March 17, 1894, no. 111, for £105 to A. Smith); M. van Slochem, New York (in 1912); M. van Gelder, Uccle, near Brussels (in 1929); John Ringling, Sarasota (until 1930; sold to Böhler); [Julius Böhler, Munich, 1930; sold to Neuerburg]; Hermann Neuerburg, Hamburg (from 1930); Gottfried Neuerburg, Cologne (until 1961; sold to Böhler); [Julius Böhler, Munich, 1961–67; sold to Kleinberger]; [Kleinberger, New York, 1967–75; bequeathed by Harry G. Sperling, last surviving partner of firm, to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 18, 2007–January 6, 2008, no catalogue.

C[ornelis]. Hofstede de Groot. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. Ed. Edward G. Hawke. Vol. 1, London, 1907, p. 562, no. 306, as formerly in the Sellar collection; states that Dr. Bredius considers it genuine.

W[ilhelm von]. Bode. Letter. March 3, 1912, dates it about 1657–59.

Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Pieter de Hooch. New York, [1930], pp. XIV, 270, ill. p. 37 [German ed., 1929, pp. XVI–XVII, 270–71, ill. p. 37], as "Officer and Hostess"; dates it about 1656.

Peter C. Sutton. Pieter de Hooch. Ithaca, N.Y., 1980, p. 80, no. 23, pl. 20, as "surely genuine"; dates it about 1657–60.

Daniëlle H. A. C. Lokin in Delft Masters, Vermeer's Contemporaries. Exh. cat., Prinsenhof, Delft. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1996, p. 109, fig. 93, dates it about 1657–60.

Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), pp. 61, 70.

Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 360–62, no. 85, colorpl. 85, dates it about 1657–58.

Walter Liedtke. Vermeer: The Complete Paintings. Antwerp, 2008, p. 72, fig. 6a.



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