Pieter de Hooch
Rotterdam 1629 – 1684 ? Amsterdam
A Mother with Two Children and Two Soldiers Playing Cards
Oil on canvas, 62 x 78 cm
Signed, bottom right: P. d. hoogh.
…; dealer Sérafin Martinez, Cádiz;1 sale, José de Salamanca y Mayol, 1st Marquis of
Salamanca and Grandee of Spain (1811-83, Madrid), Paris (C. Pillet et al.), 3 June 1867
sqq., no. 93 (‘Intérieur hollandaise. Deux soldats, dont l’un porte une cuirasse, sont assis et jouent aux cartes; à gauche, une femme debout tient un jeune enfant qui lui sourrit, et
sur le devant, du même côté, est une petite fille ayant près d’elle un chien. Au fond, un
lit à rideaux et quelques ustensils de ménage sur un buffet. Signé en bas, à droite, en
toutes lettres. Galerie de don Sérafin Martinez. Toilet. 60 cent.; larg. 77 cent.’), frcs.
380;2 …; sale, [Victor] Bauchau and [De Sevilla] [section Bauchau], Brussels (J. de
Brauwere), 3 February 1874 sqq., no. 34 (‘Intérieur. Deux hommes boivent et jouent
aux cartes. A gauche, une femme et deux enfants. H. 60 cent. L. 75 cent. Toile’);…;
private collection, Stockholm; 3 dealer P. de Boer, Amsterdam, c. 1980;4 anonymous
sale, London (Sotheby’s), 9 April 1986, no. 63, withdrawn;…; collection Dr. Heinrich
Jellissen (?-1995), Germany; anonymous sale [section Jellissen], London (Sotheby’s), 6
December 1995, no. 47, £ 80,700; the dealer Robert Noortman (1946-2007),
Maastricht/London, at least until 1998; 5 private collection, Belgium
H. Havard, L’Art et les Artistes Hollandais, 4 vols., Paris 1879-81, III (1880), p. 131
C. Hofstede de Groot, Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der
hervorragendsten holländischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts, 10 vols.,
Esslingen/Paris 1907-28, I, p. 547, no. 263
P.C. Sutton, Pieter de Hooch, Oxford 1980, p. 77, no. 11bis
M.P. van Maarseveen et al. (eds.), Beelden van een strijd: oorlog en kunst vóór de
Vrede van Munst 1621-1648, exh. cat. Delft (Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenhof) 1998,
p. 356, no. 144
In a plain interior two soldiers play cards. The scene probably takes place in the morning because the mother appears to be busy dressing her son. The younger man who, one assumes, is the father, and his older colleague pause from their game and gleaming with amusement look at the small chap. Her other son is already dressed and feeds the dog from a cookie. 6 The doorway offers a view into another, barnlike room.
This is an early work by Pieter de Hooch, one of the finest genre painters of the Dutch Golden Age. De Hooch was born in Rotterdam as the son of the mason Hendrick Hendricksz de Hooch and the midwife Anneken Pietersdochter. 7 According to Houbraken he was a pupil of Nicolaes Berchem (1621-22-83) in Haarlem. A second training with Ludolph de Jongh (1616-79) in Rotterdam wins credence in view of De Hooch’s stylistic dependency on his work. De Hooch was first recorded in Delft in 1652when he signed a document with the artist Hendrick van der Burch (1627-1678 or later), whose sister Jannetje he would marry in 1654. De Hooch was first mentioned as a painter in 1653 on which occasion he is also called a ‘servant’ of the wealthy linen merchant Justus de la Grange, who was distantly related to him. Two years later, De la Grange’s inventory lists no less than 11 works by De Hooch, implying that he was the artist’s patron. During these years, De la Grange was dividing his time between his manor Offen near Noordwijk, Leiden, Warmond, The Hague and Delft, and De Hooch will have accompanied him, possibly maintaining or setting up contacts with fellow artists in these places. Prior to this De Hooch may have lived and worked in Delft with Van der Burch, who had already been a member in the guild since 1649 and was allowed to operate a studio and sell paintings. De Hooch only joined the guild himself when he had to, namely in 1655, when his friend and colleague Van der Burch moved to Leiden. De Hooch probably stayed in Delft until Spring 1660 and then settled in Amsterdam.
De Hooch’s beginnings as an artist are shrouded in mist. His earliest preserved painting from c. 1649 is the portrait of a young man in the Rijksmuseum and this may be his only self-portrait.8 It does not reveal signs of inexperience so he must have been painting for some time by then. His earliest dated paintings are from 1658, nearly a decade later.9 A sizable group of paintings can be assigned to the years preceding, but an exact chronology for them is difficult to establish. During this period De Hooch primarily produced kortegaardjes; scenes of soldiers idling away their time drinking, gambling or smoking. Following the dates that Sutton proposed, 1657 appears to represent a dramatic turning point in the artist’s development. It constitutes the moment when he first immersed in rendering interiors according to a sophisticated use of two- point perspective and started to employ an enhanced sense of atmosphere resulting in finely observed light effects. De Hooch’s work now also changed radically in terms of subject matter. These new aspects are apparent in two interior scenes with a mother and child that Sutton dated to this year and an elegant genre scene of the type De Hooch was to practice in his later Delft years and subsequently in Amsterdam.10 Both, motherhood and genteel conversation, would develop into distinct thematic avenues that were to occupy De Hooch for the rest of his productive life.
As a transitional piece, combining the guardroom tradition with the new theme of family life, the present canvas is of crucial importance in understanding the new direction De Hooch was to take and how he set about. Sutton dated it to c. 1655. De Hooch’s first dated paintings of 1658 display a ‘highly rationalized spatial order and a heightened awareness of the effects of aerated light and shade’. These are not yet in evidence in our work and obviously the road to perfection would have taken him a few years.11 The two just-mentioned interior scenes with mothers and their children constitute an earlier, experimental stage when the artist was busy perfecting the rendition of the play of light in more complex spaces. Therefore, Sutton was probably right in placing them a little earlier, around 1657. Since De Hooch’s interest in contrived perspectival arrangements and sensitivity to light are not yet found in our painting it must have been executed still earlier; c. 1655-56.
From around the same period is a peculiar scene of a soldier plucking dead game and a mother with baby in a stable (fig. 1). 12 It is obvious that the concept of maternal care, or more broadly defined as family life, entered De Hooch’s repertoire well before 1658, by which time it had been fully integrated into his thematic vocabulary. One guardroom scene which came to light after the publication of Sutton’s monograph with catalogue raisonné in 1980 was, given its less advanced and less refined execution, probably made a year or so earlier than our painting, so in around 1654, and is of interest because it features the same old soldier (fig. 2). 13 Even the facial expression and position of his hat correspond, suggesting that De Hooch made use of study drawings (fig. 3). Since not one drawing by De Hooch has been preserved the observation affords a valuable new insight into De Hooch’s studio practice.14
1 According to the catalogue of the sale, Marquis of Salamanca, Paris (C. Pillet et al.), 3 June 1867 sqq.,
2 Copy RKD.
3 Fact sheet Noortman.
4 Sutton 1980, p. 77.
5 Lent to Delft 1998 (see literature).
6 Boys also wore a skirt until sometime between the ages of two and eight. This child is most likely a boy because girls would cover their hair with a cap and because the collar is similar to those worn by men. With thanks to Saskia Kuus, The Hague: email correspondence 21 December 2020. For the difference between boys’ and girls’ dress see: S. Kuus, ‘Rokkekinderen in de Nederlanden 1560-1660: een onderzoek naar het verschil in kleding tussen meisjes en jongens in rokken,’ in D. Bakker- Stijkel et al., Kostuum: jaaruitgave van de Nederlandse kostuumvereniging voor mode en streekdracht (1994), pp. 6-13.
7 For a recent biography see J. van der Veen, ‘Pieter de Hooch, contouren van een schilder in Rotterdam, Delft en Amsterdam’, in A. Jansen (ed.), Pieter de Hooch in Delft: uit de schaduw van Vermeer, Delft (Prinsenhof) 2019-2020, pp. 20-47.
8 SK-A-181. The painting was published as attributed to De Hooch and entitled Self-portrait? In Delft 2019-2020, pp. 118-21.
9 Six dated paintings from 1658 have survived: Sutton 1980, p. 81, no. 26 (A Girl Drinking with Two Soldiers, Paris, Louvre); no. 27 (A Soldier Paying a Hostess, Mount Stuart, Bute Collection); no. 28 (Card Players, London, The Royal Collection); pp. 82-83, no. 30 (A Woman with a Baby on her Lap and a Small Child, New York, Aurora Trust); p. 84, no. 33 (Figures Drinking in a Courtyard with an Arbour, United States, private collection); no. 34 (The Courtyard of a House in Delft, with a Woman and Child, London, National Gallery).
10 Sutton 1980, pp. 78-79, no. 17 (Mother and Child with a Serving Woman, present whereabouts unknown); no. 18 (A Woman Preparing Vegetables, with a Child, Paris, Louvre); no. 19 (A Merry Company with Two Men and Two Women, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art).
11 The quote from Sutton 1980, p. 19.
12 Dated by Sutton to 1655-57. Sutton 1980, pp. 77-78, no. 14 (A Soldier with Dead Birds and Other Figures in a Stable, London, National Gallery).
13 Present whereabouts unknown, Guardroom with Smiling Officer, Fluteplayer and Soldiers. Sutton included it in De Hooch’s oeuvre in his addendum to the 1980 catalogue raisonné in P.C. Sutton, Pieter de Hooch, 1629-84, London (Dulwich Picture Gallery)/ Hartford, CT (Wadsworth Atheneum) 1998-98, p. 182.
14 For De Hooch’s use of drawings see also A. Krekeler, ‘Een studie naar de schildertechniek van Pieter
de Hooch’, in Delft 2019-2020, p. 67.
15 Guardroom with a Soldier Blowing the Trumpet, a Mother and Child and Other Figures, signed and dated 1653. Present whereabouts unknown. Illustrated in the catalogue for the sale, Munich (Fleischmann et al.), 19 September 1892 sqq., no. 161. Guardroom with a Soldier Blowing the Trumpet, a Mother and Child and Other Figures, signed and dated 1654. Warsaw, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, inv. 131115. See: D. Juszczak et al., The Stanislaw August collection of paintings at the Royal Lazienki: catalogue, Warsaw 2016, no. 82, pp. 309-12 (ill.). Several works date from the 1640s: Guardroom with a Soldier Cleaning his Musket and a Mother with Child, signed, datable late 1640s. Present whereabouts unknown, formerly dealer Kleykamp, The Hague; photo RKD. Elegant Company with an Officer being dressed by his Servant and a Mother with Child, datable mid 1640s. Formerly dealer H.S. Lanford, London; photo RKD.
16 To be sure, the presence of mothers and children in military encampments in towns were a historic reality. When soldiers encamped, their wives and children would accompany them, but on campaigns they were often left behind and the soldiers were joined by prostitutes and female sutlers. For this see: A. Schmidt, Prosecuting women: a comparative perspective on crime and gender before the Dutch criminal courts, c.1600-1810, Leiden 2020, p. 31.
17 J.B. Bedaux, The reality of symbols: studies in the iconology of Netherlandish art 1400-1800, The Hague 1990, pp. 109-69.
18 Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, SK-A-1907. For a discussion see Ekkart in J.B. Bedaux and R.E.O. Ekkart (eds.), Pride and joy: children's portraits in the Netherlands 1500-1700, Antwerp (Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten)/ Haarlem (Frans Hals Museum) 2000-01, pp. 102-03.
19 Bartholomeus van der Helst, Portrait of a Girl, signed and dated 1658. Madrid, Soraya Cartategui Gallery. See: J. van Gent, Bartholomeus van der Helst (ca. 1613 - 1670): een studie naar zijn leven en werk, Zwolle 2011, p. 280, no. 105 (ill.). Gabriel Metsu, Portrait of the Family of Jan Jacobsz. Hinlopen (1626-1666) and Leonora Huydecoper (1631-1663), signed and datable c. 1662. Gemäldegalerie
(Staatliche Museen zu Berlin), Berlin, inv. 792. See: A.E. Waiboer, Gabriel Metsu: life and work: a catalogue raisonné, New Haven 2012, pp. 95-96, 230, no. A-87. Jacob Ochtervelt, Portrait of an Unknown Family, signed and dated 1663. Cambridge (Massachusetts), Fogg Museum, inv. 1922.135 See: S.D. Kuretsky, The paintings of Jacob Ochtervelt (1634-1682), with catalogue raisonné, Montclair 1979,
p. 60, no. 18. Michiel van Musscher, Portrait of a Family, signed and datable 1668-72. Present whereabouts unknown. See: F.W. Robinson, Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667): a study of his place in Dutch genre painting of the Golden Age, New York 1974, pp. 69, 203, (ill.).