VREL, Jacobus
(active 1654-62 in Delft and Haarlem)


Dutch painter. Some 38 paintings, depicting domestic interiors, street scenes and a church interior, have been attributed to this enigmatic artist. Four copies after his works are possibly autograph; one drawing has also been ascribed to him. Over half of Vrel's paintings are signed or bear traces of signatures that were altered to read Johannes Vermeer or Pieter de Hooch, with whose paintings Vrel's work was often confused. Indeed, Theophile Thoré discussed Vermeer as a townscape painter largely on the basis of works that were actually by Vrel.

An autodidacte, he is stylistically connected to Delft and Amsterdam artists such as Pieter de Hooch, Johannes Vermeer and Pieter Janssens, called Elinga. His earliest dated painting, a Woman at a Window of 1654, in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna predates De Hooch's earliest dated Delft interiors. The Sleeping Woman is a pendant of this painting, and both were acquired for Leopold Wilhelm's gallery in Brussels, when he was governor of the Spanish Netherlands (1646-56). David Teniers the Younger was the curator for his gallery.