Interior with a Woman Seated by a Hearth

Jacobus Vrel

Interior con mujer sentada junto al hogar

Vrel, Jacobus

Activo en Holanda, c. 1654-1662

Interior with a Woman Seated by a Hearth, c. 1654

© Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza

Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on deposit at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Oil on panel

64,5 x 47,5 cm

CTB.1998.30

Artwork history

  • Brod Gallery, London.

  • Sotheby´s, lot 30, London, July 10th, 1998.

  • Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on deposit at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.

1999 - 2000

Naturalezas pintadas de Brueghel a Van Gogh. Pintura naturalista en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, nº 16, p. 72.

2000

De Van Goyen a Constable. Aspectos da tradición do pintoresco na Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Corunna, Museo de Belas Artes da Coruña, nº 21, p. 94.

2001

De Van Dyck a Goya. Maestros Antiguos de la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Castellón, Museo de Bellas Artes, nº 16, p. 74.

2017

La apariencia de lo real. Cincuenta años de arte realista en España (1960-2010). Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, Cat. 39, p. 130-131 Ilust.

  • -Kersten, Michiel C. C. and Lokin, Daniëlle H. A. C.: Delft masters, Vermeer’s contemporaries: illusionism through the conquest of light and space. Zwolle, Waanders Publishers – Delft, Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenhof, 1996, p. 179, illus. 176.

  • -Fock, C. W.: ”Werklijkheid of Schijn. Het beeld van het Hollandse interieur in de zeventiende-eeuwse genreschilderkunst”. In Oud-Holland. 1998, vol. 112, nº 4, p. 243, note 224.

  • -Naturalezas pintadas de Brueghel a Van Gogh. Pintura naturalista en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza [Exhib. Cat. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid], 1999, n. 16, p. 72.

  • -De Van Goyen a Constable. Aspectos da tradición do pintoresco na Colección Carmen Thyssen- Bornemisza, La Coruña, Museo de Belas Artes da Coruña [Exhib. Cat. Museo de Belas Artes da Coruña], 2000, n. 21, p. 94.

  • -De Van Dyck a Goya. Maestros Antiguos de la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Castellón, Museo de Bellas Artes [Exhib. Cat. Museo de Bellas Artes, Castellón], 2001, n. 16, p. 74.

  • -Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Arnaldo, Javier (ed.). 2 vols. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2004, vol. 1, p. 122, illus. p. 123 [Sheet by Peter C. Sutton].

  • -La apariencia de lo real. Cincuenta años de arte realista en España (1960-2010). Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, 2017, Cat. 39, p. 130-131 Ilust. [Exhib. Cat.]

Expert report

Though unsigned, this painting is typical of Jacobus Vrel’s art in its depiction of a tall and narrow domestic interior in shadow with a hearth and lighted windows in the back wall. A woman in a white kerchief sits head in hand beside the fireplace; to the right a child’s cradle appears before an enclosed “box bed” with a brass bedwarmer hanging on the wall and blue ceramic plates and a brass salver providing decoration above. The bedding is draped on the chair and the pillows have been plumped and sit airing on a table at the back. Other cozy details are the family pets-a small, spotted dog lying at the woman’s feet and a cat making itself comfortable perched on a small footwarmer on the floor. Characteristic of Vrel’s interior is the spare and attenuated space, the curiously stunted furniture, and the shadowed foreground and cool backlighting.

Closest in conception and design to the present work are three other domestic interiors with tall windows, a hearth, and a woman viewed in lost profile, namelyWoman and Child beside a Table (Brussels, Musée des Beaux-Arts), Woman Combing a Child’s Hair (Lille, Musée des Beaux-Arts) and Woman at a Window(Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum). The date 1654 appears on the last mentioned. Since the present work is related in style, composition and technique to the Vienna painting a similar date is proposed for the Baroness’s painting. Vrel depicted women, usually singly, in a variety of domestic roles: tending a fire, doing laundry, ministering to children or convalescents, or simply reading or sleeping. Many of the same furnishings (the box bed, chairs, candlesticks, dishes, etc.) reappear in his other interiors but the rooms themselves vary in subtle ways. Like Pieter de Hooch he favoured contre-jour illumination and an expressive use of space with glimpses through a window or door to the diminutive alleyways that feature in his street scenes. However, Vrel never attained De Hooch’s sophisticated command of perspective and consistently avoided views to adjoining rooms-De Hooch’s signature motif. Vrel concentrated instead on the single all-purpose room that formed the centre of the huisvrouw’s home life, gently illuminated by the tall windows in the far wall. His rather naïve drawing style and straightforward, somewhat dry painting technique rarely resorted to glazes or other refinements but beautifully complements his quiet and unpretentious domestic themes.

Apparently another version of this painting of similar dimensions (panel 64.5 x 47.5 cm), but which to judge from the reproduction may only be a copy, was sold in London.

Peter C. Sutton