1616 Dordrecht – Amsterdam 1680
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A Woman Holding a Pear 1651 etching and drypoint on Gampi Japan paper; 152 x 123 mm (6 x 4 7/8 inches)
Bartsch 14; Dutuit 16; Hollstein 15 third state (of four)
Sir Edward Astley, Norfolk (Lugt 2775)
Edme-Antoine Durand, Paris (Lugt 741);
his sale Bénard, Paris, March 19ff., 1821, lot 652 (with the other Bol prints)
Alexandre-Pierre-Francois Robert-Dumesnil, Paris (Lugt 2200);
his sale Phillips, London, April 12–14, 1836, lot 339 (with another print)
Arkady Nicolayevitch Alferoff, Bonn (Lugt 1727);
his sale, Maillinger, Munich, May 10, 1869, lot 86, described as “magnifique épreuve du même [premier] état, fort chargée de barbes et tirée sur papier de Japon; elle a de la marge. De la dernière rareté. Cette épreuve a appartenu aux collections suivantes: Astley, Ed. Durand, Rob. Dumesnil, Verstolk van Soelen, van den Zande et Molasse”
Ivan Izaklevitch de Kouriss, Odessa (Lugt 2722), who is said to have sold his prints
(apart from the portrait collection auctioned in Berlin in 1889) to Posonyi in Vienna
Moriz von Kuffner (1854 Vienna – Zurich 1939)
A fine, rich impression of the third state (of four) on Japan paper with narrow margins all round.
With this illusionistic image of a woman leaning out of an open window and thereby apparently defying the limits of the picture plane, Bol embraces a device familiar in the paintings of Rembrandt and his pupil Gerrit Dou (as well as Dou’s followers in Leiden). He uses a range of etched and drypoint lines to describe a range of textures and details, from the dense shading that suggests the various shadows cast on the woman’s face by the veil on her head to the velvety drypoint burr that indicates the plush fabric of her clothing. The Fogg Museum at Harvard owns a preparatory drawing in reverse for this print which is indented for transfer to the metal plate.
The significance of the pear remains ambiguous and mysterious even with the Christian tradition. The sweetness of the fruit might qualify it as a symbol of love. This is congruent to its meaning in antiquity where the pear was understood to be the fruit of Venus. During the Italian Renaissance it generally signified affection and well-being (see Ackley in cat. Boston, pp. 206f., no. 139, note 4). Lucas van Leyden included a pear on a small table in his allegorical engraving of Caritas (Charity; Bartsch 129), one of a set from 1530 showing The Seven Virtues. Bol’s print neither bears a motto nor has it any accompanying text. Yet a young woman with a voluptuous décolletage leaning out of a window while looking straight at the viewer and dangling a pear suggestively with her right hand might reasonably allow us to position the image within an erotic context.