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Pieter de Hooch, A Woman and her Maid in a Courtyard

Key facts
Full title A Woman and her Maid in a Courtyard
Artist Pieter de Hooch
Artist dates 1629 - after 1684
Date made about 1660/1
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 73.7 × 62.6 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1869
Inventory number NG794
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
A Woman and her Maid in a Courtyard
Pieter de Hooch

We seem to be looking at a scene just outside a kitchen. A maid has brought a steaming cauldron out from the kitchen stove and placed it near the open drain in the courtyard. Apparently obeying her mistress, who stands in front of her, she seems to have taken the fish out of the cooking pot; perhaps she is doing this outside to make it easier to pour away the water.

One of the most appealing aspects of Dutch seventeenth-century painting is the insight it gives us into everyday life, and especially the lives of women. Scenes of ordinary mothers and children or maids and their mistresses at ease in their own homes had hardly been depicted in art before. But in Holland from about the 1640s, the theme became a popular one and Pieter de Hooch’s paintings are some of the most evocative examples of the genre.

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