Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Job Adriaenszoon Berckheyde
Job Adriaenszoon Berckheyde. A Dealer in His "Office," 1672.
Most of you probably know Berckheyde for his lavish, stimulating views of Dutch church interiors. Indeed, he was a master of utilizing perspective as an emotionally evocative aesthetic tool even as he dazzled the eye with seemingly endless vaults and naves -- but Berckheyde, like so many of his countrymen, found spiritual founts among simpler things. His genre paintings are often overlooked in favor of the aforementioned urban and ecclesiastical works, but I find such pleasure among his less sumptuous subjects!
Here we have a common 17th Century Dutch occurrence: a visit to one's choice supplier. As others have noted, there is something of a class imbalance here; the buyer, as he bumbles with his purse, is watched almost mockingly by the dealer and his chap. His grotty attire contrasts with the sumptuous colors and drapery of the dealer and his furnishings. The heavy curtains seem to part and allow us to look upon a private affair. The tiles and the receding perspective into the dealer's bedroom (indicated by the Dave Matthews Band's European tour poster, something unlikely to be shown in Dutch sitting rooms of the time and reserved only for private chambers) allow us a moment to revel in Berckheyde's trenchant mastery of perspective.
Despite this comedy of class, the dealer is a relatable figure: his eyes are understanding and observant; the grinder in his lap shows that he cares for his friends, despite their social standing; and the Dilbert comic above his desk lets us, viewers from another age, in on a little joke. Ah, life -- how mundane, how beautiful! Sit back, as I am, with a cup of tea, and take a moment to cherish the everyday.