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  • Writer's picturedandelion

Dandelion Art - Week 3

Once a week we take a painting, or piece of sculpture, that interests us, tell you a bit about it and hope it sparks something with you and your families. We would love to hear of any recommendations.


When we are allowed to travel again, we can't recommend Amsterdam as a family city break enough. Any trip there will include a visit to the Rijksmuseum and, rather than feel overwhelmed, head straight to the Gallery of Honour. The focal point of this corridor is the The Night Watch by Rembrandt but in the alcoves there are masterpieces by the great artists of the seventeenth century which include Pieter de Hooch's wonderful maternal scene.

A Mother's Duty by Pieter de Hooch

c.1660, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Pieter de Hooch (1629-1684) is an example of Dutch Golden Age painter. He is best known for

his pictures of domestic life of women and children.

If you could take a peek into a seventeenth century Dutch home you might encounter a scene like this one. With great concentration, a mother is delousing her child's hair in a simple Dutch interior, with Delft blue tiles, a box bed ('bedstede') and – on the right – a potty chair ('Kakstoel'). A dog sits on the tiled floor looking towards an open window in the adjacent room. Over the door hangs a small landscape painting.

We can see a backdoor and beyond it a garden. Such glimpses from one space to another ('through-views') are characteristic of De Hooch's work. So also is light painted in a wealth of gradations. The light falls through the right hand window onto the woman – is reflected by the white cushions in the box bed and gleams on the brass bed warmer next to it. Even the tiles are lit differently from the front to the back.

De Hooch never painted large historical scenes but often his intimate domestic scenes include a hidden message. Here the act of combing is a reference to the cleansing of the the soul – also one of a mother's duties!

Anya Waddington 22 February 2021


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