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Dutch Painting

Woman Peeling Apples

Pieter de Hoogh
c. 1663
Oil on canvas, 71 x 54 cm.
Wallace Collection, London

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Pieter de Hooch, WOman Peeling Aples

Pieter Heindricksz. de HOOCH
Rotterdam 1629 Amsterdam after 1683 (?)

Pieter de Hooch (who often spelled his name 'de Hoogh' in his earlier days) was baptized in Rotterdam on 20 December, 1629. He was the son of a stonemason. He was probably the pupil of Nicolaes Berchem, the landscape painter, in Haarlem, though his own earliest pieces are barrack-room scenes recalling those of Codde and ter Borch. In 1653 he is recorded in the service of a cloth-merchant who lived in Delft; De Hooch is called a servant and painter. In May 1654 he married and settled in Delft, and in September the following year he entered the Delft guild. Which of the Delft painters he knew well is not recorded: he may have become acquainted with Carel Fabritius before the fateful explosion of October 1654 in which the latter was killed. It was in those years in Delft that De Hooch painted his best works, works that establish him as the great poet of the Dutch domestic interior, the rival of that other great painter from Delft, Johannes Vermeer. Unlike Vermeer, whose preferred subject was a solitary woman in the corner of a room, de Hoogh did show family life. Though men seldom intrude, his interiors are occupied with the activities of the home; his women are wives and mothers, mistresses of the house-hold, accompanied by children and servants. The true subject of de Hooch's Delft paintings, however, is the Dutch house itself, its spaces and vistas, its open doors and windows through which the world is seen. These canvases offer a microcosm of Holland in the seventeenth century. At some time between 1660 and 1663, De Hooch moved to Amsterdam, and his work, perhaps under the influence of work by Maes and de Witte, began to deteriorate. There is evidence that he continued to live in Amsterdam until 1670, and there are paintings dated as late as 1684, but the year and place of his death are not known.

The Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer, John Nash, London, 1972

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