Pieter de Hooch worked in the small and relatively quiet city of Delft from 1652 to about 1660. Like other Delft artists, most notably Carel Fabritius and Johannes Vermeer, De Hooch painted everyday scenes that are remarkable for their clarity of perspective and harmony of light. He gave order to his compositions by emphasizing the geometry of architectural elements. The positioning of doors, windows and their shutters, floor tiles, and bricks was all carefully calculated and painted.
Women going about their daily chores or attending to visitors, such as the soldiers seen here sitting around a table smoking and drinking, are a frequent theme in De Hooch’s work. The man wearing a breastplate is setting down the pitcher he has used to refill the "pass-glass" held by the woman. The pass-glass was used in drinking games. Each participant had to drink down to a circular line on the glass; failing to reach the exact level, the reveler would be required to drink down to the next ring. Only when this was done successfully would the glass be passed on to the next participant. The little girl carries a brazier of hot coals so that the two soldiers can light their long-stemmed, white clay pipes. Despite its apparent realism, and the presence of the tower of the Nieuwe Kerk in the background, the scene probably does not depict a specific courtyard.
Marks and Labels
Cornelis Sebille Roos [1754-1820], Amsterdam; (his sale, R.W.P. de Vries, Amsterdam, 28 August 1820, no. 51); Isaac van Eyck. (sale, Paris); purchased by a Mr. Mason; purchased by Baron Lionel de Rothschild [1808-1879], Gunnersbury Park, Greater London, by 1842; by inheritance to his son, Nathan Mayer Rothschild, 1st baron Rothschild [1840-1915]; by exchange with or sale to his brother, Baron Alfred Charles de Rothschild [1842-1918], London and Halton House, near Wendover, Buckinghamshire; bequeathed to his illegitimate daughter, Almina Victoria, Countess of Carnarvon [c. 1877-1969, later Mrs. Ian Onslow Dennistoun], London; sold 1924 to (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris); sold November 1924 to Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.; deeded 28 December 1934 to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1937 to NGA.
- Masterworks of Five Centuries, Golden Gate International Exposition, San Francisco, 1939, no. 81a, repro.
- Pieter de Hooch, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, 1998-1999, no. 19, repro., as Two Soldiers and a Woman Drinking in a Courtyard.
- Johannes Vermeer: The Art of Painting, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1999-2000, not in brochure.
- Vermeer and the Delft School, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The National Gallery, London, 2001, no. 33, repro.
- Vermeer: La ragazza alla spinetta e i pittori di Delft, Foro Boario, Modena, 2007, no. 10, repro.
- Smith, John. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters. 9 vols. London, 1829-1842: 9(1842):573, no. 30.
- Waagen, Gustav Friedrich. Treasures of Art in Great Britain: Being an Account of the Chief Collections of Paintings, Drawings, Sculptures, Illuminated Mss.. 3 vols. Translated by Elizabeth Rigby Eastlake. London, 1854: 2:130.
- Havard, Henry. L'art et les artistes hollandais. 4 vols. Paris, 1879-1881: 3:128.
- Davis, Charles. A Description of the Works of Art Forming the Collection of Alfred de Rothschild. 2 vols. London, 1884: 1:no. 15, repro.
- Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. 8 vols. Translated by Edward G. Hawke. London, 1907-1927: 1(1907):559, no. 295.
- Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten holländischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts. 10 vols. Esslingen and Paris, 1907-1928: 1(1907): 558, no. 295.
- Rudder, Arthur de. Pieter de Hooch et son oeuvre. Collection des grands artistes des Pays-Bas. Brussels and Paris, 1914: 61, 65.
- Collins Baker, Charles Henry. Pieter de Hooch. Masters of Painting. London, 1925: 6-7.
- Valentiner, Wilhelm R. "Pieter de Hooch, Part I." Art in America 15, no. 1 (December 1926): 47, 53 fig. 4, 58, 61.
- Brière-Misme, Clotilde. "Tableaux inédits ou peu connus de Pieter de Hooch, Part II." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 69, no. 16 (July 1927): repro. 61, 63.
- Brière-Misme, Clotilde. "Tableaux inédits ou peu connus de Pieter de Hooch, Part III." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 69, no. 16 (1927): 286 errata.
- Valentiner, Wilhelm R. "Pieter de Hooch, Part II." Art in America 15, no. 2 (February 1927): 76, no. 10.
- Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Pieter de Hooch: des Meisters Gamälde in 180 Abbildungen. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 35. Stuttgart, Berlin and Leipzig, 1929: xiv, xv, 44, repro.
- Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Pieter de Hooch: The Master’s Paintings. Translated by Alice M. Sharkey and E. Schwandt. London and New York, 1930: xiv, xv, 44, repro.
- Jewell, Edward Alden. "Mellon's Gift." Magazine of Art 30, no. 2 (February 1937): 82.
- Golden Gate International Exposition. Masterworks of Five Centuries. Exh. cat. Golden Gate International Exposition, San Francisco, 1939: no. 81a, repro.
- McCall, George Henry. Masterpieces of art: Catalogue of European paintings and sculpture from 1300-1800. Edited by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Exh. cat. New York World's Fair, New York, 1939: 97, no. 201.
- Duveen Brothers. Duveen Pictures in Public Collections in America. New York, 1941: no. 210, repro.
- Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 99-100, no. 56.
- National Gallery of Art. Book of illustrations. 2nd ed. Washington, 1942: no. 56, repro. 27, 240.
- Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Masterpieces of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. Translated. New York, 1944: 106, color repro.
- National Gallery of Art. Paintings and Sculpture from the Mellon Collection. Washington, 1949 (reprinted 1953 and 1958): 92, repro.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1956: 44, repro.
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in Art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1957: pl. 112.
- Baird, Thomas P. Dutch Painting in the National Gallery of Art.. Ten Schools of Painting in the National Gallery of Art 7. Washington, 1960: 34, color repro.
- National Gallery of Art. The National Gallery of Art and its collections. Washington, 1960s: 20.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.. New York, 1963: 192, repro.
- Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 69.
- Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. Translated. New York, 1966: 1: 240, color repro.
- National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 61, repro.
- Sonnenburg, Hubertus von. "Technical Comments." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 31, no. 4 (Summer 1973): unpaginated, fig. 84 (detail).
- National Gallery of Art. European paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. Washington, 1975: 178, repro.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: 288, no. 384, color repro.
- Sutton, Peter C. Pieter de Hooch: Complete Edition with a Catalogue Raisonné. Oxford, 1980: 85, no. 35a.
- Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Jan Vermeer. New York, 1981: 22, fig. 16.
- Sutton, Peter C. Masters of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Genre Painting. Edited by Jane Iandola Watkins. Exh. cat. Philadelphia Museum of Art; Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin; Royal Academy of Arts, London. Philadelphia, 1984: 219.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 288, no. 378, color repro.
- Wheelock, Jr., Arthur K. Dutch Painting in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 1984: 28-29, repro.
- National Gallery of Art. European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. Washington, 1985: 205, repro.
- Rumsey, Thomas R. Men and women in revolution and war, 1600-1815. Wellesley Hills, 1985: 53.
- Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Jan Vermeer. Masters of Art. 2nd rev. ed. New York, 1988: 20, fig. 16.
- National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1992: 132, repro.
- Fiero, Gloria K. The Age of the Baroque and the European Enlightenment. The Humanistic Tradition 4. 2nd ed. Madison, 1995: 45-46, fig. 22.5.
- Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1995: 139-142, color repro. 141.
- Kersten, Michiel C.C., and Daniëlle H.A.C. Lokin. Delft masters, Vermeer's contemporaries: illusionism through the conquest of light and space. Exh. cat. Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenhof, Delft. Zwolle, 1996: 112, fig. 97.
- Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Vermeer: The Complete Works. New York, 1997: 6, fig. 9.
- Fiero, Gloria K. Faith, Reason and Power in the Early Modern World. The Humanistic Tradition 4. 3rd ed. New York, 1998: frontispiece, repro.
- Sutton, Peter C. Pieter de Hooch, 1629-1684. Exh. cat. Dulwich Picture Gallery, London; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford. New Haven, 1998: 126-127, no. 19, repro.
- Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. "Exhibition review: Pieter de Hooch. Dulwich and Hartford." The Burlington Magazine 141, no. 1151 (February 1999): fig. 68.
- Kunzle, David. "The Soldier Redeemed: Art and Reality in a Dutch Province at War 1650-1672: Gerard Ter Borch in Deventer." Marburger Jahrbuch für Kunstwissenschaft 27 (2000): 293-294, repro.
- Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. The Public and the Private in the Age of Vermeer. Exh. cat. Osaka Municipal Museum of Art. London, 2000: 18, fig. 12.
- Liedtke, Walter A., Michiel Plomp, and Axel Rüger. Vermeer and the Delft school. Exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Gallery, London. New Haven, 2001: no. 33, 288-230.
- Southgate, M. Therese. The Art of JAMA II: Covers and Essays from The Journal of the American Medical Association. Chicago, 2001: 62-63, color repro.
- Kunzle, David. From criminal to courtier: the soldier in Netherlandish art 1550-1672. History of warfare. Leiden, 2002: 10: 617, fig. 17.18.
- Waagen, Gustav Friedrich. Treasures of Art in Great Britain. Translated by Elizabeth Rigby Eastlake. Facsimile edition of London 1854. London, 2003: 2:130.
- Meijer, Bert W. Vermeer: la ragazza alla spinetta e i pittori di Delft. Exh. cat. Foro Boario, Modena. Florence, 2007: 124-125, no. 10, repro.
The fine, plain-weave fabric support has been lined with the tacking margins trimmed. A smooth off-white ground was applied somewhat thickly to the support. The ground is coated with a transparent brown wash imprimatura that becomes thinner in the area corresponding to the sky. With the brown wash used as an undertone, De Hooch applied paint in thin, transparent layers. The impasted highlights are constructed of small dabs of color placed in close proximity, often overlapping. This technique produces a flickering effect, particularly in the flesh tones. Infrared photography reveals artist's changes in the placement of the figures.
The paint is in good condition with little loss and minor abrasion. Inpainting is limited and a slightly discolored aged surface coating is present. The painting was last treated in Holland in the 1930s. No conservation has been carried out since acquisition.
 Pigment analysis is available in the Scientific Research department (26 October 1978).
Work of Art
Work of Art
- Event Name
- March 1–June 1
- Mon, Tues, and Wed at 1:00
- March 5, 2012 at 2:00
March 7, 2012 at 4:00
- East Building, Auditorium
- Name of docent
- 60 minutes
- Registration for this event begins on April 1, 2012 at noon.
- Download the program notes (100k)
- Italian Collection