Bisschop has composed a large-scale domestic scene with two silhouetted figures standing next to a table. The cavalier has just arrived, and still wears his hat and sword belt. As he leans to embrace the young woman, she picks up the candlestick and wine jug for their romantic "rendezvous." Comparison with other works by the artist suggests that Bisschop and his wife, Geertruyt Botland, probably served as models.
Lying on the table is an "ornamental Lotto" carpet. Its vibrant palette adds a touch of color to the canvas, while the choice of showing only a part of the rug enhances the drama of the composition. The carpet's emphatic presence also underlines its function as a showpiece and, together with the silver candlestick and plate, proclaims the wealth, taste, and status of the couple.
The paintings by Bisschop that are most comparable in style to this undated work are from the late 1650s and the 1660s; they include the signed Old Woman Seated in Thought (Spencer collection, Althorp), dated 165[?], Joseph and Potiphar's Wife (Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf), formerly said to be signed and dated 1664, and the large Self-Portrait of 1668 (Dordrechts Museum). To judge from the last work, the young man in the MMA canvas strongly resembles Bisschop himself. Furthermore, the woman seems to be the same model Bisschop employed in a few works of the 1660s. It is possible that she is Geertruyt Botland, the artist's wife (see Clotilde Brière-Misme, "Un Petit maître hollandais, Cornelis Bisschop [1630–1674], IV Tableaux de genre," Oud-Holland 65, no. 5 , p. 188).
The picture is in good condition, although there are many small retouches over the entire surface. The glazes have been abraded in the red bodice of the woman especially, and to some extent in her face; the right contour of her head has been reinforced. The background is somewhat obscured by varnish. The painting's carved and gilded frame is remarkable, and possibly original to the picture. The canvas is unusually close to square in format, and neither it nor the frame has been cut down, suggesting that Bisschop himself may have put them together.
[2010; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
?baron de Ferrières (in 1868; as by Gabriel Metsu, "A Woman holding a Jug and a Man behind her"); Mr. and Mrs. Jack Linsky, New York (by 1954–his d. 1980; as by Metsu); The Jack and Belle Linsky Foundation, New York (1980–82)
Leeds City Museum. "National Exhibition of Works of Art," 1868, no. 573 (as "A Woman holding a Jug and a Man behind her," by Gabriel Metsu, lent by the Baron de Ferrières, possibly this picture).
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.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Carpets of the East in Paintings from the West," March 11–June 29, 2014, 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, pp. 307–8, no. 175f, possibly this picture; as "A Woman holding a Jug and a Man behind her," by Gabriel Metsu; no mention of support, dimensions, or signature; recorded as "Exhibited at Leeds, 1868, No. 573, [lent] by Baron de Ferrières".
W. R. Valentiner. Letter to Jack Linsky. June 7, 1954, attributes it to Metsu, and tentatively identifies it with no. 175f in Ref. Hofstede de Groot 1907.
Walter Liedtke inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1983–1984. New York, 1984, p. 56, ill.
Walter Liedtke inThe Jack and Belle Linsky Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. John Pope-Hennessy and Olga Raggio. New York, 1984, pp. 94–97, no. 33, ill., as by Bisschop; dates it to the early 1660s; suggests that it may represent the artist and his wife.
Nanette Salomon. "Jan Steen's Formulation of the Dissolute Household, Sources and Meanings." Holländische Genremalerei im 17. Jahrhundert. Ed. Henning Bock and Thomas W. Gaehtgens. Berlin, 1987, p. 340 n. 26 [reprinted in "Shifting Priorities: Gender and Genre in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Painting," Stanford, 2004, p. 127 n. 26].
Alan Chong and Marjorie E. Wieseman. "De figuurschilderkunst in Dordrecht." De Zichtbaere Werelt: Schilderkunst uit de Gouden Eeuw in Hollands oudste Stad. Exh. cat., Dordrechts Museum. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1992, p. 28, fig. 25, call it a typical genre scene by Bisschop, closely related to large-scale genre paintings by Maes.
Walter Liedtke inRembrandt/Not Rembrandt in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Aspects of Connoisseurship. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, "Paintings, Drawings, and Prints: Art-Historical Perspectives."New York, , p. 151, under no. 53.
Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), pp. 62, 66, fig. 75 (color, MMA Linsky gallery photograph).
Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 36–39, 328, 331 n. 8, no. 8, colorpl. 8.