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Pieter van Hooch of Delft

Pieter van Hooch is not one of the big three of Dutch Art (Vermeer, Rembrandt, Van Gogh) but this exhibition at the Prinsenhof Delft shows he is an artist of innovation, a master of light and painter of everyday life in Delft.

Born in Rotterdam, the son of a bricklayer, he came to Delft in 1652 where he painted for 8 years before going to Amsterdam.

The pictures on display reveal fine use of light, detailed brickwork, courtyards as subjects for the first time, all in Delft.

It’s possible to take a walking tour to see the places painted. In this respect van Hooch reminded me of Stanley Spencer – in and of – Cookham.

The exhibition is branded From the Shadow in Vermeer but there is no evidence they ever met.

At 17 euros  for a two-room exhibition the admission fee is on the high side but you can see the rest of the museum largely devoted to portraits of the House of Orange.

William the Silent adopted this monastery at his home and planned the resistance to the occupying Spain.

After this I went to the famous son of Delft, Johannes Vermeer at the Vermeer centre.

There is a major problem as Vermeer was not the most productive of artists, the body still extant numbers 39 and probably less than 50 in his lifetime.

So there are no actual pictures on view in the Vermeer Centre – just a video, reproductions , explanations of his symbolism. If you want to see the “Girl with a Pearl Earring” you need to go The Hague, “The Milkmaid” in the Rijkmuseum, or “The Music  Lesson” in Buckingham Palace. Surprisingly  there is no reference in the Centre to the developing science of optics.  Vermeer knew one of its pioneers Anthony von Leeuwenhoek well – he became his Executor.   Modern art scholars like Martin Gayford opine that the precison of the Dutch Golden Age in general and Vermeer in particular must  have owed something to these optics.  The problem is there is very little evidence either way.

Because of the lack of work, his paintings are much forged.

The most famous forger is Van Mergerem who duped Georing. He was indicted but died before the trial.

There is now a lively market in his work which raises the interesting question of how you validate and value a forgery?

After our cultural morning we had a pancake lunch at the Stadkoffyhuis and later dinner at Le Vieux Jean.  I will let Daffers review but I  enjoyed them.

I would certainly recommend Delft.

It’s compact, well-ordered and calm.

Even the cyclists, of which there are many, are polite and considerate to pedestrians. The canals and the elegant  houses alongside are all rather quaint.

It’s a convenient spot to see The Hague and Rotterdam and Amsterdam is not far away. Do go there.

About Alice Mansfield

A graduate of the Slade, Alice has painted and written about art all her life. With her children now having now grown up and departed the nest, she recently took up sculpture. More Posts