Hooch, Pieter De
child whilst collection amsterdam
HOOCH, PIETER DE, a Dutch painter of note, was born it is thought about 1632, and died it is supposed in 1681 at Haarlem. Public records testify that he was a native of Rotterdam, and wandered early to Delft, where he married in 1654 and 'practised till 1657. From that time onward his life is obscure; and the only proofs of his existence to which we can point are the dates on his pictures, which range from 1658 to 1670. The registry of " Pieter de Booge's " death at Haarlem on the 28th of February 1681 is believed to refer to our artist. Though neglected by his contemporaries, De Hooch is one of the kindliest and most charming painters of homely subjects that Holland has produced. He seems to have been born at the same time and taught in the same school as Van der Meer and Maes, but his works are more harmoniously coloured than those of Maes, and more boldly touched than those of Meer. In one respect all three are alike, being disciples of the school of Rembrandt. De Hooch only once painted a canvas of any size, and that unfortunately perished in a fire at Rotterdam in 1864, But his small pieces display perfect finish and great dexterity of hand, combined with that power of discrimination which accomplishes detail whilst avoiding rapidity and smoothness. Though he sometimes paints open-air scenes, these are not his favourite subjects. He is most at home in interiors, and his delight is to contrast in one picture the different atmospheres of rooms illuminated by different lights with the radiance of day as seen through doors and windows, lie thus brings together the most delicate varieties of tone, and produces chords that vibrate with harmony. The themes which he illustrates are thoroughly suited to his purpose. Sometimes he chooses the drawing-room where dames and cavaliers dance, or dine, or sing ; sometimes - mostly indeed - he likes cottages or courtyards, where housewives tend their children or superintend the labours of the cook, Satin and gold are as familiar to him as camlet and fur, but the latter are his favourites ; and there is no article of furniture in a Dutch house of the middle class that he does not paint with pleasure. What distinguishes him most besides subtle suggestiveness is the serenity of his pictures, whether in the open or in confined spaces. One of his most charming arrangements is a canvas in the Ashburton collection, where an old lady with a dish of apples walks with a child along a street bounded by a high wall, above which gables and a church steeple are seen. The dame is busied with the child, whilst a gentleman in a hat and cloak shows his back in the distance. The sun radiates and glitters joyfully over the whole. Fine in another way is the Mug of Beer in the Amsterdam museum, an interior where a woman is seen coming out of a pantry and giving a measure of beer to a little girl. The light flows in here from a small closed window. But through the door to the right we look into a drawing-room, and through the open sash of that room we see the open air. The three lights are managed with supreme cunning. In such masterpieces as these we discern the models familiar to later artists such as Boursse and Koedijk, and a delicate gradation of tints which Macs and Meer might have envied. Beautiful for its lighting again is the Mother peeling Apples, whilst her child looks on supported in leading strings by a nurse, the sun shining through the casement to the left, a gem in the Speck collection at Liitschena near Leipsic, More subtly suggestive, in the museum of Berlin, is the Mother seated near a Cradle, whilst a child totters away into a lobby on the right. The mother looks into the depths of the cradle with a smile, thus betraying to us the presence of the baby which we cannot see. A Card Party, dated 1658, at Buckingham Palace is a good example of De Hooch's drawing-room scenes, counterpart as to date and value of a Woman and Child in the National Gallery, and a Smoking Party belonging to Lord Enfield. Other pictures later onward in the master's career are - the Lady and Child in a Courtyard, of 1665, in the National Gallery, and the Lady receiving a Letter, of 1670, in the Van der Hoop collection at Amsterdam. It is possible to bring together between fifty and sixty examples of De Hooch, but not more. There are eight at St Petersburg alone, three in Buckingham Palace, three in the National Gallery, five, or at least four of undoubted genuineness, in the Hoop collection at Amsterdam, some in the Louvre, at Munich, and Darmstadt ; the rest are chiefly in private galleries in England. For England was the first to recognize the merit of De Hooch, who only began to be valued in Holland in the middle of last century. A celebrated picture at Amsterdam, sold for 450 florins in 1765, fetched 4000 in 1817, and now even that price is thought a bagatelle, since the Berlin museum gave £6000 for a Dc Hooch at the Schneider sale in 1876.