HOOCH, Pieter de
(b. 1629, Rotterdam, d. 1684, Amsterdam)

Mother Lacing Her Bodice beside a Cradle

1659-60
Oil on canvas, 92 x 100 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

The glory of de Hooch's genre painting is largely found in his enchanting representations of homely scenes in which a mother or maid and a children appear in an interior or a courtyard in some domestic occupation. These works, which express Dutch ideals of caring for children and the home, strike a tender note, free from sentimentality. They help us understand why his reputation is unshakable. Children play an important role in his pictures; it will be recalled, Vermeer, the father of fifteen, never painted a child.

This painting shows some influence of the Rembrandt school, in the warmth and depth of the colouring, in the golden tonality, in the broad treatment of the figures, and in the impasto passage on the white fur. The intense reddish-orange of the woman's bodice, of the skirt hanging on the wall, and of the cradle cover are contrasted with the blue and grey in her coat, the bed curtain, the floor tiles, and the jug on the right.

De Hooch's use of the 'doorkijkje', the device also employed by Nicolaes Maes of opening the vista from one room to another, and then again from there into the street is not a mere play with perspective; in his paintings it adds a pictorial and psychological note of some significance. De Hooch sensed that in daily life one often experiences a pleasant relief when a relationship between indoor and outdoor space is established by the widened outlook and by the enrichment of light and atmosphere which it brings. In his refinement of the 'doorkijkje' device, as well as in other respects, de Hooch shows his own character.




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