1658 has generally been regarded as the annus mirabilis in the career of Pieter de Hooch. Born in Rotterdam, the artist was, according to Houbraken, a pupil of the Haarlem landscape painter Nicolaes Berchem. He is first recorded in Delft in August 1652 and although documents of April 1654 describe him as a resident of Rotterdam, he married in Delft in the following month, was inscribed as a member of the painters' guild there in September 1655 and is mentioned there again in 1657. Probably by April 1660 he had moved to Amsterdam, where he remained until his death, impoverished and insane, twenty-four years later. De Hooch's period in Delft thus lasted less than a decade but it was in these years that he made his contribution to the development of Dutch painting.
His achievement in the late 1650s directly parallels that of the Delft-born Jan Vermeer, who was less than three years his junior. Few of Vermeer's works of the period are dated but the Dresden Procuress is of 1656 and the Frick Soldier with a laughing Girl and the Dresden Girl reading a Letter are generally dated c.1658 and c.1659 respectively. By contrast de Hooch was notably more productive. To the year 1658 belong the Louvre Girl drinking with two Soldiers, the Bute Disputed Reckoning, the Cardplayers in the Royal Collection, the London National Gallery Young Woman drinking with two Men and the Woman with a Baby and a Girl in a private collection, as well as the present picture and the related Courtyard of a House in Delft in the London National Gallery (fig.a). A further composition with figures in a courtyard, of which there are variants at Washington and in the Mauritshuis, and the Two Woman in a Courtyard in the Royal Collection complete the tally of de Hooch's outstanding works. Within this group the present picture and the related canvas in the National Gallery are perhaps the paintings in which de Hooch's artistic preoccupations are expressed most clearly.
The key evidence as to the relationship between the two pictures is provided by the tablet depicted above the arch in both (see McLaren, op. cit., ed. C. Brown, 1991, I, figs.45A-B). This depends on the stone cartouche which was originally over the entrance to the Hieronymusdale Cloister in Delft and is now set in the wall of the garden behind no.157, Oude Delft (see the catalogue of the 1984 exhibition, p.219, fig.1). The original inscription reads: 'dit.is.in.sint.hieronimus.daelle wildt.v.tot.pacientie.en.lijdt - saemheijt.begeeven wandt.wij.muetten.eerst daelle willen.wij.worden.verheeuen.1614.' ['This is in St. Jerome's vale, if you wish to retire to patience and meekness. For we must first descend if we wish to be raised']. The inscription on the Wrotham painting follows the model more closely and this has generally been taken, in our view correctly, to establish the priority of the present picture.
The relationship between the present painting and that in the National Gallery has been analyzed by McLaren and Sutton, among others. The architectural structure is similar in both but in the National Gallery picture the façade with the arch is moved to the left. With the exception of the keystone, the arch in the present picture is entirely of brick while in the National Gallery painting it is relieved by two additional keystones and the arrangement of the brickwork above is changed. Instead of the open view onto a canal with a house opposite, in the National Gallery picture the vista is terminated more abruptly by a fence and a window with a brick arch above echoing that in the foreground. Because the architectural element is moved to the left the barrel and cauldron are no longer needed to balance the composition and the jerkin and sword suspended from the shutter on the left are also omitted; the shutter itself has two recessed panels rather than one. The arbour is omitted and the treatment of the right side of the composition totally reconsidered.
A major clue as to the artist's changing intentions is offered by the treatment of the pavement. The luminous alternating squares of stone
and brick of the Wrotham painting are replaced by bricks laid in a herringbone pattern which is calculated to emphasize the vanishing point on the line of the right-hand support of the arch. The steps on which the servant woman and child stand in the National Gallery picture also serve to emphasize the artist's spatial intentions. This greater insistence on projection in the National Gallery painting, an insistence that is evident in other pictures by the artist and also in the work of his contemporary in Delft, Carel Fabritius, necessitated a sacrifice. For it is the Wrotham painting rather than that in the National Gallery in which de Hooch achieves a luminosity and space which so directly parallels the art of Vermeer.
While comparisons between de Hooch and Vermeer are frequently drawn, it should be stressed that the picture in which Vermeer most closely parallels de Hooch's treatment of architecture, the Rijksmuseum Little Street, is of 1661 and may thus have been painted when de Hooch had already left Delft for Amsterdam. Vermeer's debt to de Hooch as a topographical painter has thus perhaps been understated. On the other hand it seems likely that de Hooch's Delft courtyard scenes reflect his knowledge of Jan Steen's so-called Burgomaster of Delft and his Daughter of 1655 (National Trust, Penryhyn Castle, on loan).
The present painting is first recorded in the collection of the Empress Josephine but it had presumably remained in Holland until late in the
eighteenth century as two copies by Abraham van Stry, who was born in 1753, are recorded (Sutton, op. cit., p.84, copies a and b). Pictures by de Hooch were highly esteemed from the late eighteenth century, the Louvre and Bute paintings of 1658 fetching 420 and 500 florins respectively at the Braamcamp Sale at Amsterdam in 1771.
The National Gallery Woman drinking wth two Men fetched 5,500 francs in Paris in 1804. The Empress Josephine's ownership of the present painting offers further testimony of interest in the artist despite the surprisingly low 1814 valuation. Smith identifies the next owner of the picture as 'Mr Walscott of Antwerp'; Hofstede de Groot's identification of him as J. F. Wolschot has now been confirmed by the discovery of a label on the reverse giving his name and address, Marché aux Souliers no.557, Antwerp, although the painting was not among the four hundred and sixty paintings in his sale on 1 September 1817 as Hofstede states.
The present picture may have been acquired directly from Wolschot by Edward Solly. Solly, a resident of Berlin, had made a fortune during the Napoleonic Wars from his family's enormous timber importing business based in St.Mary Axe in London. In c.1811 he seems to have developed quite suddenly a passion for art collecting and in the following nine years he amassed the largest private collection of pictures formed in the nineteenth century. Consisting of no less than 3000 works, it was dominated by 'primitives', of which it was the most important collection ever assembled by a single collector, including Van Eycks's Ghent Altarpiece.
It was purchased at the sale by George Byng, who had inherited Wrotham from his father and namesake in 1789 and who had also followed him as
M.P. for Middlesex, a seat he was to hold in the Whig interest for fifty-six years. Widely popular, he was described in an obituary as 'neither learned, eloquent nor profound' (Gentleman's Magazine, 1847, p.309), but was far more than a casual collector. While
he weeded out the collection in his London house, 5 St. James's
Square, sending twelve paintings to Christie's on 10 April 1813, he
was prepared to buy major works for substantial prices. Thus at
Lord Radstock's sale in these Rooms in 1826 he bought Giulio Romano's
Spinola Holy Family for 890 guineas and paid 840 guineas for Parmigianino's Portrait of a Collector, sold from Wrotham in these Rooms on 8 July 1977 and now in the National Gallery. Other
acquisitions included the Murillo Saint Joseph and the Christ
Child sold in these Rooms on 14 December 1990, lot 31. That his
relatively small group of Dutch pictures included a masterpiece of
the calibre of the present painting and an exceptional Jan van de
Cappelle offers a further testimony to the range of Byng's taste
Pieter de Hooch (1629-1684)
Oil, with gold on the keystone, on canvas laid down on panel
REMOVED FROM WROTHAM PARK
Signed with initials and dated 'P.D.H. 1658.'
London, British Institution, 1839, no.8
London, British Institution, 1842, no.187
London, British Institution, 1856, no.56
London, Royal Academy, Works by the Old Masters, Jan.-March 1881, no.101
London, Royal Academy, Works by the Old Masters, Jan.-March 1893, no.64
London, Royal Academy, Dutch Art 1450-1900, 4 Jan.-9 March 1929, no.311, Illustrated Souvenir pl.41
London, Royal Academy, 17th Century Art in Europe, 3 Jan.-12 March 1938, no.240, Illustrated Souvenir p.63
London, National Gallery, on loan, 1952
London, Royal Academy, Dutch Pictures 1450-1750, 22 Nov. 1952- 1 March 1953, no.376, Illustrated Souvenir p.12
Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland, on loan, 1969-1984
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Masters of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Genre Painting, 18 March-13 May 1984, pp.LIII and 218-9, no.53, and colour pl.103
Washington, National Gallery of Art, The Treasure Houses of Great Britain. Five Hundred Years of Private Patronage and Art Collecting, 3 Nov.1985-16 March 1986, pp.374-5, no.308, illustrated in colour
Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, on loan
26 5/8 x 22 5/8in. (67.8 x 57.5cm.)
Château de Malmaison, Catalogue, 1811, no.67
J. Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné, etc., IV, London, 1833, p.233, no.47 'brightly illumined by the appearance of the most perfect day-light ... excellent picture'; IX (Supplement), London, 1842, pp.567-8, no.15
G. F. Waagen, Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain, London, 1857, p.323, seen in the First Drawing-Room at Wrotham Park, 'The clear sunny tone and the very harmonious colouring render this picture exceedingly attractive'
C. Kramm, De Levens en Werken der Hollandsche en Vlaamsche Kunstschilders, Beeldhouwers, Graveurs en Bouwmeesters van den vroegsten tot op onzen tijd, III, Amsterdam, 1859, p.733
M. de Lescure, Le Château de la Malmaison, Paris, 1867, p.274
H. Havard, Pieter de Hooch in L'Art et les artistes hollandais, III, Paris, 1880, p.95:3 (confused with the copy in the collection of S. A. Koopman, Utrecht, before 1839)
C. Hofstede de Groot, Proeve kritische beschrijving van het werk van Pieter de Hooch, Oud-Holland, 10, 1892, no.53
A. von Wurzbach, Niederländisches Künstler-Lexikon, I, Vienna, 1906, p.717
C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné, etc., I, London, 1908, pp.560-1, no.299
A. de Rudder, Pieter de Hooch, Brussels, 1913, pp.17, 21, 35 and 101
T. Borenius, The Collection of Pictures at Wrotham Park, Country Life, XLIV, no.1142, 23 Nov.1918, p.465 and illustrated p.459
C. H. Collins Baker, Pieter de Hooch, London, 1925, pp.4-5 and pl.II
W. R. Valentiner, Pieter de Hooch. Part One, Art in America, 15, Dec.1926, pp.57 and 58
C. Brière-Misme, Tableaux inédits ou peu connus de Pieter de Hooch-II, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 5e per., 16, July-Aug.1927, p.62 and illustrated p.59 'séduisant entre tous [les cabinets en plein air]'
W. Martin, The Connoisseur, 83, 1929, p.137 and pl.X
W. R. Valentiner, Pieter de Hooch (Klassiker der Kunst), Berlin and Leipzig, 1929, pp.xvi and xvii and illustrated p.54
F. van Thienen, Pieter de Hooch, Amsterdam, [c.1945], pp.34 and 35 and fig.28 H. Gerson, De Nederlandse Schilderkunst, II, Het tijdperk van Rembrandt en Vermeer, Amsterdam, 1952, p.38 and fig.106
M. Brockwell, The Connoisseur, 131, 1953, p.36
Art News, 5, Jan.1953, fig.32
N. MacLaren, National Gallery Catalogues: The Dutch School, London, 1960, pp.188-9; 2nd ed., revised and expanded by C. Brown, London,
1991, I, pp.200-1 and figs.44 and 44B (detail)
S. Grandjean, Inventaire après décès de l'impératrice Joséphine à Malmaison (1814), Paris, 1964, p.145, no.1012
F. Herrmann, Who was Solly ? Part 2: the Collector and his
Collection, The Connoisseur, vol.165, no.663, May 1967, p.15
A. Blankert, Johannes Vermeer van Delft 1632-1675, Utrecht and Antwerp, 1975, pp.55-7 and fig.29; revised English edition, Vermeer of Delft. Complete edition of the paintings, London, 1978, p.38 and fig.29
P. C. Sutton, Pieter de Hooch, Oxford, 1980, pp.24, 25-6, 50, 84, no.33, and 85, under no.34, pl.32 (detail) and colour pl.VIII
The Empress Josephine, Château de Malmaison, Rueil (Catalogue, 1811, no.67, see Lescure, loc. cit., under Literature below; Inventory, 1814, no.1012, valued at 300 frs, see Grandjean, loc. cit. below)
J. F. Wolschot, Marché aux Souliers no.557, Antwerp (label attached to the reverse by four seals with the monogram JFW)
Edward Solly (1776-1844), 67 Wilhelmstrasse, Berlin, by whom sold to the Prussian State in 1821 but recovered from the Royal Gallery of Berlin in an exchange in 1830 (or 1832?) and sold, Foster's, London, 31 May 1837, lot 90 (510 guineas to G. Byng)
George Byng (1764-1847), Wrotham Park