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Gabriel Metsu: 'An Old Woman with a Book'

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This type of subject is derived from Gerrit Dou's so-called 'niche' paintings, with an interior seen through an aperture (for example, 'A Poulterer's Shop', also in the National Gallery's Collection).

This painting has been dated to about 1660 on the basis of a comparison with the 'Hunter in a Niche' of 1661 (The Hague, Mauritshuis). It has been suggested that this picture was painted as a pair to 'The Apothecary' (Paris, Louvre). Both were in the Braamcamp collection, but the dimensions and a description of 1766 make it clear that the pictures were not pendants.

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