Interior with a Young Couple

By: Arianne Bisar, Amina Zaidi, and Jason Ni

Honors Colloquium Spring 2016, Section 11

Interior with a Young Couple 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art 40.779437, -73.963244


Interior with a Young Couple was painted by Pieter de Hooch in the year 1662. It is showcased in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1913, philanthropist Benjamin Altman purchased this painting and it was placed in the Metropolitan in the same year. There, it is part of the Dutch Golden Age collection with paintings of other Dutch painters like Rembrandt and Hals.

This oil painting captures a scene of the interior of the house of a husband and wife. It shows clear influences from Rembrandt such as use of warm colors, use of gold and placement of the subjects. Like other Dutch Golden Age painters, de Hooch used dark colors and balanced compositions, played with light and perspective and paid attention to small details. He likes to use open doors, windows and hallways like in the painting. With these techniques he creates a very calm and peaceful portrait of the couple. De Hooch mostly painted scenes of the tavern or soldiers and switched to domestic scenes when he started his family in mid 1650s.

What story about the Dutch in America does your story tell

This painting shows the domestic scene of Dutch culture, with this painting we are able to see the mundane details of their everyday life. These types of paintings were very common during this era. Because of the economic prosperity in the Netherlands, an elite merchant class arose. People became rich enough to get portraits painted of them. The gold curtains and tile floor depicts this couple’s wealth. This also shows how women play a role in society. The painting even shows the woman standing and the man sitting. Women in the Dutch republic had one of the highest literacy rates than anywhere else in Europe. While their husbands were at sea, they took over their business. Even though this painting has both a man and a women, paintings of women in the household vastly outnumbered male portraits. Running the household was very much a woman’s job. Cleanliness is also something the Dutch take pride in; it represented virtue and good citizenship. This painting also depicts how clean and orderly their house is.


“Interior With A Young Couple – Pieter De Hooch.” YodelOut Art. YodelOut Art, n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2016.

“Interior with a Young Couple Pieter De Hooch 1662-66.” Interior with a Young Couple by Pieter De Hooch, 1662-66. FindTheData, n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2016.

“Interior with a Young Couple.” The Met. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

“Pieter De Hooch.” Pieter De Hooch. Pagina Artis, n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2016.

“Pieter De Hooch.” RKD. Netherlands Institute for Art History, n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

The Netherlands and America: Sisters in Art

 Thought to be the home of the “first modern economy”, the Netherlands were experiencing a shining Golden Age by the 17th century. The nation had grown economically prosperous from its trade, dominating the lucrative trade of spices and other goods. At the same time, the Dutch were free of overt royal influence or religious dominion, allowing the development of a new ideal, a new “modern individual”: secular, middle-class, and urban.

This ideal was particularly visible in Dutch art: the rise of the businessman and middle class caused a boom in the art industry, with as many as 1,700 artists active during the Golden Age. Rather than saints or royalty, the subjects of Golden Age paintings were simply wealthier civilians, dressed smartly but not decadently, striving to be the center of the scene, but not from divine right, and often bearing some sign of the accomplishments that made them so privileged.

The artistic ideal of the modern man did not stay confined within Dutch borders. Following the exploration of Henry Hudson in 1609, the Dutch West India Company gained colonization rights and settled along the Hudson River, establishing what is today New York. With them, the Dutch traders and settlers brought their cultural ideas and artistic styles, which have since been integrated into American culture, giving rise to the similarities between American and Dutch culture present to this day.

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(American, 1768-1836) Simeon De Witt, 1804
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(Dutch, 1606–1669), Portrait of Cornelis Claesz. Anslo, 1641







Given some time to compare works of art from either culture, one will find that the themes conveyed by both are indeed quite similar. For example, portraiture in either culture will not only focus on the subject, but on the signs of (usually) his success, and the root of it in light of the modern man stereotype. The lighting makes the subject “pop” out of the background, and will having him holding (or at least standing very close to) some sign of education and worldliness.

In Rembrandt’s 1641 work, Portrait of Cornelis Claesz. Anslo, there is scarcely a background at all, and the man is holding a book while casually gesturing at more. Much later, In the 1804 American work Simeon De Witt by Ezra Ames, again the subject’s coloring contrasts just enough with the environment’s scheme to stand out, and he places his hand on a table with maps and a globe, pen in hand. These are wealthy, educated men and these artists, separated by over a century and by nationality, are elegantly showing that off in very similar ways. The artistic modern man has clearly crossed borders.

America’s Dutch roots are as relevant today as ever!

Here are some good reasons why:

  • European colonization of New Jersey started soon after the 1609 exploration of its coast and bays by Sir Henry Hudson.
  • Dutch settlement in the seventeenth century concentrated along the banks of the North River and the Upper New York Bay, though they maintained trading posts along the Delaware River as well.
  • In 1658, the last Director-General of New Netherland, Peter Stuyvesant, “re-purchased” the entire peninsula known as Bergen Neck, and in 1661 granted a charter to the village at Bergen, establishing the oldest municipality in the state.
  • Once the English gained control of the New Netherland colony through the Treaty of Westminster, the Duke of York gifted the land between the Hudson and Delaware Rivers to two of this loyal friends, Sir George Carteret and Lord Berkeley of Stratton, who then changed the name of the area to New Jersey, after the English Channel Island of Jersey.
  • The Dutch Reformed Church played an important role this expansion, following the course of the Hudson River in the north to the Raritan River in the south, settlement and population grew.  
    The American Presbytery secured a charter in 1766 for Queens College (now Rutgers University), where the appointment in 1784 of John Henry Livingston as professor of theology marked the beginning of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, located on College Ave. campus.

Both of the paintings discussed in this post are housed right here at Rutgers in the Zimmerli museum! Connect with these cultural roots by seeing these Golden Age artworks for yourself, today!

Dutch Influence at Rutgers University

Nishitha Kambhaladinne, Natasha Khatri, Ayesha Misra, Sushma Mannimala – Section 6

Portrait of Cornelis Claesz. Anslo, 1641 from Zimmerli Art Museum
Portrait of Cornelis Claesz. Anslo, 1641 from Zimmerli Art Museum

A Physical Description of the Painting:
This painting is called Portrait of Cornelis Claesz Anslo. He was a Dutch Mennonite preacher who was also a cloth merchant in the mid 1600s. The painting was initially made to only be admired by Anslo’s close family and friends. It was etched onto Japanese paper. Anslo lived in Amsterdam for his whole life, where Rembrandt painted this portrait of him. Rembrandt was known to draw and etch people of the Mennonite church quite often. Rembrandt depicted the merchant’s success through his rich attire. Rembrandt’s paintings are all a part of the Dutch Golden Age, because of how his work influenced Dutch history and culture.

Zimmerli Art Museum

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Zimmerli Art Museum 40.499989, -74.445881


This painting, Portrait of Cornelis Claesz Anslo, is located in the Zimmerli Museum at Rutgers University. The painting was brought from the Netherlands to America at Rutgers University because of the relationship between the Dutch and Americans, and the influence of Dutch culture in America, specifically on Rutgers campus. The date of when the object was placed there is unknown. It was given to Rutgers University by the estate of Raymond V. Carpenter. This painting was created by Rembrandt van Rijn, a painter who is considered to be one of the greatest painters in Dutch History.

This is related to the Dutch because it was created by the Dutch artist Rembrandt. It signifies the importance of art in Dutch culture. In the lecture by Dean Jones, she goes through how art allowed the Dutch to develop their culture and capture it. Many of the paintings by Dutch artists are portraits because they believe in capturing reality. Many of the paintings discussed by Dean Jones follow this pattern of candid paintings. This influenced many American painters to adopt self portraits and made this a more popular theme in America. Many American-Dutch artists use these techniques today to maintain their culture.

This painting is connected to Rutgers because it was gifted to Rutgers to be placed in the Zimmerli Museum on campus. It adds to the enormous amount of Dutch history and culture in the Rutgers and New Brunswick area. Henry Rutgers himself was of Dutch descent so since the very beginning of Rutgers history, it was already being influenced by the Netherlands. Putting this painting on campus continues and expands on the never ending history.

We picked this object because it is located on campus in the Zimmerli Art Museum and is related to Dutch history. Some of us have seen this painting when we visited the museum. It is available for anyone to see and is free to the public. Today, people can look at this painting and realize how art was at the heart of Dutch culture. It shows that Dutch artists took time to replicate nature as best as they could and it was important for them to get their message across.

Rembrandt expresses the importance of capturing nature in each of his paintings. He believes that “ in paintings the greatest and most natural movement has [to be] expressed, which is also the main reason why they [take] so long to execute” (Rembrandt). He stresses the importance of working on the art to capture each detail and making it as close to nature as possible. The portrait was meant to capture the essence of Cornelis Claesz. He was a rich and powerful man who always had a stern expression. The point of the painting was to emulate his personality through the painting. Most of Rembrandt’s works were relevant to the city of Amsterdam and surrounding towns of Holland,“as both a flourishing artistic center and a cosmopolitan, polyglot community in which a variety of religious faiths were tolerated.” The man in the painting was a Mennonite preacher who believed in religious tolerance. This painting envelops the Dutch culture on campus and gives insight into the values of the Dutch.

Works Cited

“Cornelis Claesz Anslo.” Norton Simon Museum. Norton Simon Museum, 2016. Web. 06 Apr. 2016.

“The Mennonite Minister Cornelis Claesz.” Web Gallery of Art. Web Gallery of Art, Web. 06 Apr. 2016.

Rembrandt. Digital image. Zimmerli Art Museum. Rutgers University, Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

“Rembrandt Quotes.” Rembrandt. N.p., 03 Apr. 2004. Web. 06 Apr. 2016.

Fowler, David J. “Benevolent Patriot: Henry Rutgers, 1745-1830.” Rutgers University Libraries: Special Collections and University Archives:. Rutgers University, n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2016.

Dickey, Stephanie S. “Contemporary Explorations in the Culture of the Low Countries.” Google Books. Metropolitan Museum of Art, n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2016.