Jacobus Vrel imbued his interiors with an unpretentious clarity, frequently showing inhabitants turned away from the viewer to focus on domestic tasks, or looking through a window to the outside world. In this charming painting, a nurse quietly gazes out an open door as she sits near a bed-bound woman. Set in a room with plain white walls, a fireplace, window, door, and series of plates decorating the mantelpiece, the women are lost in their thoughts and show no sign of interaction. The resulting effect is a scene without narrative but filled with a quiet sense of mystery. This feeling is reinforced by the subtle harmony of the patterns of light and color that fall on the room's intriguing architectural elements.
Very little is known about Vrel, not even the location in which he worked. The intimacy and quiet charm of his interior scenes suggest a spiritual kinship with Delft artists Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) and Pieter de Hooch (1629–1684), with whom his work has been confused, but it is unlikely that he resided in Delft. Moreover, Vrel's earliest dated paintings predate both Vermeer and De Hooch's work, indicating that he developed his style and technique independent of them.
Frits Lugt [1884-1970], Maartensdijk, before 1929. M. van Leeuwen-Boomkamp, Oud-Bussum, near Hilversum, by 1935; P. van Leeuwen-Boomkamp, Oud-Bussum, near Hilversum, by 1955; (sale, Sotheby's, London, 8 December 1971, no. 45); J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; deaccessioned 2007 by the Getty Museum; (sale, Sotheby's, New York, 25 January 2007, no. 7); June deH. [Mrs. Henry H.] Weldon, New York; gift 2012 to NGA.
- Kunstschatten uit Nederlandse verzamelingen, Museum Boymans (now Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen), Rotterdam, 1955, no. 135, fig. 141.
- Loan to display with permanent collection, Phoenix Art Museum, 1972-1973.
- Valentiner, Wilhelm R. "Dutch Genre Painters in the Age of Pieter de Hooch, II, Jacobus Vrel." Art in America and Elsewhere 17(1929): 88.
- Valentiner, Wilhelm R. "Pieter de Hooch: des meisters gemälde in 180 abbildungen mit einem anhang über di genremaler um Pieter de Hooch und die kunst Hendrik van der Burchs." Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 35 (1929): xxxiii (also 1930 English ed., translated by Alice M. Sharkey and E. Schwandt, London and New York).
- Brière-Misme, Clotilde. "Un 'Intimiste' hollandaise: Jacob Vrel." Revue de l'art ancien et moderne 68, no. 365 (November 1935): 160, 162.
- Sutton, Peter C. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids and Kampen, 1986: 144.
- Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Los Angeles, 1997: 134, repro.
- Southgate, M. Therese. "The Cover: Jacobus Vrel, Young Woman in an Interior." Journal of the American Medical Association 291, no. 13 (7 April 2004): 1539, repro.
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