A Musical Party in a Courtyard, Pieter de Hooch
In the National Gallery, London. Use the fullscreen and zoom controls to the right of the image.
Another of De Hooch’s wonderful explorations of space and light, into which we are irresistibly drawn.
Here, De Hooch invites us into a foreground space that, at first glance, appears to be an interior, but on closer inspection is revealed to be a table setting in a courtyard at dusk — at which revelers sit, softly lit by an unshown light source from the left.
From there we are invited, indeed urged, to walk through the courtyard doorway at right, past one of the guests who acts as our stand-in, out into another space — still brightly lit in the late day sun — where we can cross one of Amsterdam’s canals to another set of windows and doorways, open and inviting.
I love the way De Hooch has controlled his major areas of color and value, including the muted but beautifully colorful sky above the gate, the soft transition of light and shadow across the floor, and the fascinating addition of the single brightly colored orange on the table.
His depiction of the house beyond the canal and its occupants would make a wonderful composition in itself. How much more De Hooch delights us by leading us there through the foreground space.