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Musical Party in a Courtyard

Artist: Pieter De Hooch
Created: 1677
Dimensions (cm): 68.5 x 83.5
Format: Oil on canvas
Location: The National Gallery, London, England

Musical Party in a Courtyard

In 1677, Pieter De Hooch created ‘Musical Party in a Courtyard,’ a composition in oil on canvas intended to be a reflection of time past as De Hooch inscribed the year 1620 on the building seen through the stone archway.

The forefront of the painting demonstrates Pieter De Hooch’s remarkable talent in reproducing depth perception and lighting. He created a powerful contrast between the high walls shading the figures and the sun-lit canal running through the town square. The artist’s meticulous brushstrokes not only give the water a textural rippling effect, but also manage to include the reflection of the surrounding buildings. In the scene, a woman stirs her drink as she listens to the music being played by the female violinist across the table from her. The man sitting beside her, who is possibly her husband, attempts to talk with her, all the while eating. She appears indifferent to his words; she is appreciating the soothing sound of music while he is satisfying his pangs of hunger.

‘Musical Party in a Courtyard’ is reminiscent of the period depicted in De Hooch’s “Amsterdam,” -the architecture being similar to the buildings on the Keizersgracht.


• With regard to De Hooch’s style, Kirsten Bradbury of “Essential History of Art” wrote, “De Hooch's paintings have complex structures, which create the illusion of real perspective. Rectangular architectural frames and blocks give the impression of distance, and lead the viewer's eye to the main focus of the painting...receding floor tiles also help to create this impression of perspective.”
• With respect to the lighting in De Hooch’s works, Bradbury wrote, “As well as his mastery of perspective, De Hooch was skilled in the portrayal of natural light falling on a scene. His light is warm - more intense than Vermeer's - and his color range is richer, with fewer cool tones.”

‘Musical Party in a Courtyard’ by Pieter De Hooch is currently located at the National Gallery in London, England.


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