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Samuel van Hoogstraten, 'A Peepshow with Views of the Interior of a Dutch House', about 1655-60

Key facts
Full title A Peepshow with Views of the Interior of a Dutch House
Artist Samuel van Hoogstraten
Artist dates 1627 - 1678
Date made about 1655-60
Medium and support Oil and egg on wood
Dimensions 58 × 88 × 60.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Inscribed
Acquisition credit Presented by Sir Robert and Lady Witt through the Art Fund, 1924
Inventory number NG3832
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
A Peepshow with Views of the Interior of a Dutch House
Samuel van Hoogstraten

This peculiar object is a perspective box – a rectangular wooden cabinet painted on the inside and outside, and open on one end to let in light. The inside is painted in such a way that it’s only when we peer through a peephole – there’s one on either side of the cabinet – that we see the illusion of a three-dimensional seventeenth-century Dutch house. The rooms are quiet: one woman lies asleep in bed, while another reads in a chair. The only other living being in the house is a dog, though a man outside peeks in through a window.

Reflecting a fascination with perspective and optical devices, such boxes were produced in the Dutch Republic from about 1650, for a relatively short period of about 25 years. Only six survive today, and this one is the most complex and sophisticated.

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