Rus Articles Journal

Gerard Dow, “Girl at a window“. What is she busy with?

the Picture of the Dutch artist Gerard Dow forces the viewer to stop before it and to think of sense of its actions.

In a picture - idyll: the pretty maiden of curvy shapes holds a jug from which something flows in hand. On a background mother cooks for the son - the school student sandwich, and he says a prayer at this time. In a fireplace fire burns, something cooks (fire is visible near at hand girls). What in this picture special except that the artist placed the girl in an arch and in this arch there are no shutters, flew down (that for the house absolutely unacceptably)?

Such composition suggests an idea that everything drawn - some allegory. But what?

It would seem, everything is clear: pours out water of a jug. From very big jug - in it it is not less than 10 liters. Perhaps, it waters flowers under a window? The question following this assumption: such stream will not wash away flowers? Whether not too it is powerful?

Whether and water the girl pours out? Most likely - no. Because to take from such vessel at need the necessary amount of water - how many it is necessary to spend efforts?

So, it is not water. Then that? The answer arises that it or just slops - washed up a jug and pours out everything. Or this rewandering something: beer, wine. And here such waste of activity pours out directly under a window. Somehow not really matches an accurate type of the girl: she as if creates to herself not too fragrant atmosphere.

Thus, it is rational to explain its act it is not possible. What then is concealed behind this picture? How to explain drawn with the artist? And how the sketch on a background where the boy says a prayer before food matches it?

We will look that Vane Frenits in the work devoted to Peter de Hokh`s picture “The woman writes about it cooks for the boy sandwich“ (it concerns also “The girl in a window“ of Gerard Dow there):

“Dow placed this charming scene (mother cooks for the son sandwich - B. R.) on a background of a cloth in which the main character is the maid represented in an arch aperture who is pouring out something of a big jug.

Can seem that the foreground and a background are not connected among themselves. Nevertheless what is done by the maid can be also understood as a hint on education.

It agrees to a metaphor, well-known those days, about training which authorship belongs to the ancient writer Horace, the vessel always keeps a smell of the first liquid which in it was filled in.

Authors of books about house way were familiar with this metaphor and connected it with thought that children will always remember initial manuals.

The English puritan William Godzh, for example, claimed that what was learned in the childhood remains very long, the same as “the ship always stores a smell of the first freight“ (probably, it belongs to those times when in the ships carried spices - B. R.)

In Dow`s picture the maid devastates a jug rather, than pours from one in another, but the same result: this bolshy the jug will keep a smell of liquid which of it is poured out.

Dow`s work contains one more hint on education. To the left of the servant - a flower in a pot, perhaps, the Chinese small lamp (cape gooseberry ordinary - B. R.) that ripens together with fruit. In the seventeenth century training of children often assimilated preparation of the soil for landing or crops to grow up fruits. The raised children, thus, are associated with carefully grown up fruits while their undisciplined peers - with wild plants or with weeds and a thistle“.


of the Reasoning of the art critic lead us to thought that if in a jug there were slops, then it will keep their smell - and for a long time. The actual mistake is that the jug can be washed by rather small efforts, these are not holds of the ship with spices.

It must be assumed that slopping of slops can serve as allegory of clarification. But what will be with splashed out outside of nasty? It can return? Or, it is worse than that how the infectious disease will pass to others?

And still: and whom this action clears? Grandmother, boy or girl? More likely, girl. Though a look at it not humble, but a look it is impossible to call repenting in any way (it has a serious left half of the face, and right - slightly derisive).

The girl is attractive. Even very much. Authentically to us not to learn about other sense of a picture any more...