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Pieter de Hooch, A Woman Drinking with Two Men

Key facts
Full title An Interior, with a Woman drinking with Two Men, and a Maidservant
Artist Pieter de Hooch
Artist dates 1629 - after 1684
Date made probably 1658
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 73.7 × 64.6 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG834
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Woman Drinking with Two Men
Pieter de Hooch

There is mystery in this room. One of the figures has her back to us, so we can’t see the expression on her face. But since the man behind the table seems to be using two clay pipes as a pretend violin and bow, and his companion gestures as though conducting a duet, she may be singing.

Scenes left open to different interpretations are characteristic of seventeenth-century Dutch painting, and depictions of musical gatherings were especially ambiguous – they can represent innocent entertainments or something more salacious. We can’t be sure if what we see here is a musical gathering, however, let alone whether or not it is an innocent one.

But we do feel as though we are in a real space. De Hooch has used the black and white floor tiles to help create this illusion: their lines and sizes help our eye to understand where the figures, furniture, walls and windows are in relation both to us and to each other.

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