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Painting in Delft

Delft, a small town just a short distance from Rotterdam and The Hague, played only a minor role in the economic miracle of seventeenth-century Holland, but did create a distinctive style of painting. In the early 1650s exceptional cityscapes and architectural interiors were created there by Carel Fabritius (1622 – 54) and Gerrit Houckgeest (1600 – 61). Later in the same decade two of the greatest genre painters were documented in the city – Pieter de Hooch and Johannes Vermeer. All these painters seem to have been excited by the same problem – how to paint space and light. They were all masters of the geometry of perspective and probably all knew something of the new technology of the Camera Obscura.

These factors provided a basis for a type of painting which turned expectations inside out – making the space more important than the solid and the interior more important than the figures which inhabit it.

Jan Steen (Leiden 1626-Leiden 1679)

A Woman at her Toilet

Ludolf de Jongh (Rotterdam 1616-Hillegersberg 1679)

A formal Garden: three Ladies surprised by a Gentleman

Johannes Vermeer (Delft 1632-Delft 1675)

Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman

Pieter de Hooch (Rotterdam 1629-Amsterdam 1684)

A Courtyard in Delft at Evening: a Woman spinning

Pieter de Hooch (Rotterdam 1629-Amsterdam 1684)

Cardplayers in a sunlit Room