The Colf Players
Pieter de Hooch (Rotterdam 1629 – Amsterdam 1684)
This is a playful example of a seventeenth-century Dutch ‘view-through’ (or doorkijkje) picture, for which Pieter de Hooch is particularly noted. A small child bursts through a doorway having interrupted a game of colf (similar to modern golf) with the older boy in the backyard. The picture celebrates this moment of exuberant recreation in a world of ordered domesticity – note the scrupulously clean surfaces and neat costumes. It is also a clever demonstration of perspective and light effects, presenting a receding sequence of interior and exterior spaces infused with a cool winter light. De Hooch included glazed tiles behind the door on the left-hand side of the scene, each decorated with rudimentary depictions of pairs of playing children as if to signal the sophistication and realism of his own rendering of this subject. There are two other versions of this composition in the National Gallery of Art, Washington and in the Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe. In these pictures more of the room is shown, including a woman to the right smiling back at the child.
Oil painting on panel, The Colf Players by Pieter de Hooch (Rotterdam 1629 – Amsterdam 1684), signed bottom of door, circa 1658-60. A child standing in the doorway of a room paved with ceramic tiles with the door handle in one hand and a golf club in the other. In the garden beyond, bounded by buildings and trees is a small boy dressed in grey, also carrying a golf club.
Possibly Count Moritz von Fries, Vienna; Héris sale, Brussels, 19 June 1846, lot 27; Piérard sale, Paris, 21 March 1860, lot 29; Sir H. Hume Campbell sale, Christie's, 25 May 1867, lot 77; bought in; purchased by Lesser Lesser from Campbell at Christie's, 16 June 1894, lot 37; purchased by William McEwan from Lesser in 1894 for £660. Bequeathed in 1942 by Margaret Helen Greville DBE (1863-1942) to the National Trust, along with the Polesden Lacey Estate in memory of her father William McEwan MP (1827-1913). [The probate inventory of January 1943 shows this item in the the record for Polesden Lacey pictures, drawings etc. p.172.]
Polesden Lacey, The McEwan Collection (National Trust)
Marks and inscriptions
Bottom of door: P d Hooch (signed, later addition?) Back of painting on cradle: Exhibition label from the Royal Academy of Arts exhibition of Dutch art January 4th - March 9th 1929. Back of painting on cradle: Handwritten label: "Exhibited National Gallery Vestibule Oct-April 1944" Back of painting on cradle: Exhibition label from Eugene Slatter gallery exhibition with the Anglo-Netherlands Society entitled 'Masterpieces of Dutch Painting in the Seventeenth Century' June 27th - July 28th 1945. Back of painting on cradle: Exhibition label from the Royal Academy of Arts winter exhibition 1952/53 Back of painting on cradle: Part of an article describing the painting from an unknown source alongside a small square paper label with the number 24 pencilled on it. Back of painting on cradle: A small paper label with the number 2321 and a monogram handwritten in black ink Back of painting on cradle: Chalk number 14
Makers and roles
Pieter de Hooch (Rotterdam 1629 – Amsterdam 1684), artist
The Art of Upbringing, Dordrechts Museum, Dordrecht, Netherlands, 2013, no.3
Hofstede de Groot 1907-28 C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century, 8 vols., London, 1907-28, vol.I, no.305 Woman and Child in Art (exh cat) Grosvenor Gallery, London, 26 November 1913 - 11 February 1914, no.63 Brière-Misme 1927 Clotilde de Brière-Misme, 'Tableaux inédits ou peu connus de Pieter de Hooch',Gazette des Beaux-Arts, XVI, 5, 1927, pp.63-4 Dutch Art 1450-1900 (exh cat) Royal Academy, London, 4 January - 9 March 1929, no.324 Valentiner 1929 Wilhelm Reinhold Valentiner, Pieter de Hooch, Stuttgart, 1929, p.57 Masterpieces of Dutch Painting in the Seventeenth Century (exh cat) Eugene Slatter, London, 27 June - 28 July 1945, no.1 Dutch Pictures 1450-1750 (exh cat) Royal Academy, London, 22 November 1952 - 1 March 1953, no.443 Gelder 1953 Jan Gerrit van Gelder, 'Rembrandt and his Circle', Burlington Magazine, XCV, 1953, p.34, n.2 Portrait Groups from National Trust Collections (exh cat) Arts Council of Great Britain (touring exh), National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, Wakefield, Luton, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, Coventry, 1960-1, p.15, no.13 Polesden Lacey, Surrey [The National Trust; St. John Gore] 1964, p.24, no.44 Kersten 1996, Michiel Kersten, 'Pieter de Hooch and Delft genre painting 1650-1675' in Delft Masters, Vermeer's Contemporaries (exh cat) Prinsenhof, Delft, 1 March - 2 June 1996, pp.150-2 Fock 1998 C. Willemijn Fock, 'werkelijkheid of schijn. Het beeld van het Hollandse interieur in de zeventiende-eeuwse genreschilderkunst', Oud Holland, 112, 4, 1998, pp.218-9 Westermann 2001, Mariët Westermann, 'Making Home in the Dutch Republic' in Art in the Home: Dutch Interiors in the Age of Rembrandt, (exh cat) Newark Art Museum, New Jersey, 30 Sept 2001 - 20 Jan 2002, Denver Art Museum Colorado, 2 Mar - 26 May 2002, pp.67-8 (The Art of Upbringing) De Kunst van het Opvoeden (exh cat) Dordrechts Museum, Dordrecht, 27 April - 15 September 2013, p.79, no.3, 3a Chu 2017 John Chu, The Pictures at Polesden Lacey, National Trust, 2017, p.18 Prized Possessions: Dutch Paintings from National Trust Houses (exh. cat.), Holburne Museum, Bath 25 May - 16 Sep 2018; Mauritshuis, The Hague, 11 Oct 2018 - 6 Jan 2019; Petworth House, West Sussex, 26 Jan - 24 Mar 2019., pp.105-9, no. 10 Jansen 2019: Anita Jansen et al, 'Pieter de Hooch in Delft: from the Shadow of Vermeer', Zwolle, WBOOKS, in cooperation with Museum Prinsenhof Delft, 2019., pp. 162-165, cat. 15c