VRIES, Roelof van
(b. ca. 1630, Haarlem, d. after 1681, Amsterdam)

The Pigeon House

1660s
Oil on wood, 37 x 31 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The painting probably takes its nineteenth-century title from the wooden shelter with a slanted roof on the tower, and from the birds fluttering about. Similar towers, usually attached to the remains of a fortified wall, occur in a number of paintings by Klaes Molenaer, but Van Vries himself often depicted tall, square towers, most of them attached to ruined castles or river forts.

The Pigeon House shows a few peasants going about their daily business, such as the fisherman who works in his boat, and the old lady going down to the river to meet him. On the edge of the bank is an old pigeon house, a run-down and dilapidated building. The painting shows a small corner of village life, focusing in and concentrating on the landscape, and is contextualized by the human activity that takes place within it.