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Core Record

Title A Musical Party
Collection English Heritage (Wellington Museum, Apsley House)
Artist Hooch, Pieter de (Dutch painter, 16291684)
Date Earliest probably about 1675
Date Latest probably about 1680
Signed yes

This is a late work, usually dated c. 1675 (Valentiner 1930, 167580; Sutton 1980, c. 167577). The room and its occupants are typical of de Hooch's elegant patrician interiors and mirror his clientele in Amsterdam, so different from the more homely genre scenes of his Delft period in the 1650s. There are in fact only one musician and two singers in an interior with twelve figures, and the emphasis is on love rather than music.

Born in Rotterdam, de Hooch is recorded in Delft from 1653 and in Amsterdam from 1661, where he remained until his death in 1684. In the 1650s he was one of the pioneers of the new style of realistic genre painting with which Carel Fabritius, Nicolaes Maes and, above all, Johannes Vermeer are also associated.

Current Accession Number WM 14871948
Inscription front cl (above chair) 'P.D.HOO[GE]'
Subject figure; interior; everyday life; animal (dog)
Measurements 106 x 137 cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas

For a discussion of the link between love and music see under Duyster, WM 1524. Above the fireplace, the painting based on Rembrandt's etching the Small Lion Hunt was one which de Hooch introduced into several of his compositions (Sutton 1980, p. 44, pls. 95, 113). The coats of arms to the left (or, a fess gules; azure, 3 mullets argent), too simple to convey the complexity of seventeenth-century armorial bearings, are probably fanciful but nevertheless convey the patrician character of the household. The portrait hung nearby similarly suggests a distinguished genealogy.

De Hooch painted several musical parties of this kind in his mannered, refined style of the 1670s, but this is the fullest and most elaborate composition. His later paintings are often criticised for their weak execution, but, in the use of light emanating from the open window and from a point on the spectator's left to model the figures, de Hooch has here recaptured some of the subtlety and monumentality of his earlier work. Among the comparable scenes are those in the Academy of Arts, Honolulu (Sutton 1980, 108); in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Copenhagen (Sutton, 109); the Deder collection (Sutton, 112); the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Wilstach collection (Sutton, 114 and the Indianapolis Museum of Art (Sutton, 116). Sutton rejects Pelinck's suggestion that WM 1487 could have been the companion piece to the Jacott-Hoppesack family portrait of c. 1670 now in the Amsterdams Historisch Museum (Sutton, 92, pl. 95). For de Hooch see W.R. Valentiner, Pieter de Hooch, (English edn ) London, 1930; P.C. Sutton, Pieter de Hooch, Oxford and New York, 1980.

Rights Owner Copyright English Heritage
Author C.M. Kauffmann, revised by Susan Jenkins



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