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Friday 12 April 2024

Volunteer Insights from the Collection: Dutch Interior with figures

How does art bring together the classic and the contemporary?

We asked our volunteers to pick their favourite artwork from the collection. Volunteer Simon C. tells us about an oil painting, Dutch Interior with figures, after Ludolf de Jongh. 

Why did you choose this artwork? 

In person especially, this painting is mysterious and witty. When I saw it, it just gave off enormous atmosphere. Something illegal appears to be occurring. It is also aesthetically pleasing. 

What do you think is happening in the painting? 

Perhaps this is an arranged marriage? It seems like somebody is being reluctantly coerced into a situation. It could be a legal representative sitting at the left. The house is wealthy. 

If you could, what would you ask the artist? 

Did all the sitters pose at once, and for how long? Do you know any of the sitters? Why did you choose earthy brown colours? What aesthetic decisions did you make to create an atmosphere of farce or tragedy?  

At the time of painting, you would have regularly heard Baroque music being played, and seen opera. Would you make a link between these art forms and your painting? To what extent are you motivated by wealth, a search for truth, a search for beauty? 

Could you tell us about yourself? 

I was a Civil Servant for 38 years. Since then, I’m mostly volunteering full time in the arts. I have invigilated one room of an exhibition at Somerset House. I helped the artist Nick Malone present his Saturday Art classes. I volunteered at the Nunnery Gallery. Now I’m a regular volunteer at Orleans House Gallery.