Ferdinand Bol

Woman with a Pear

Woman with a Pear by Ferdinand Bol

Artwork Detail

Described as Rembrandt’s most loyal follower, Ferdinand Bol entered Rembrandt’s studio in 1637, studying under him until the early 1640s. The master’s influence on his work was both stylistic and thematic, but Rembrandt clearly had a certain regard for his pupil holding prints by the younger artist in his collection. Best known as a painter, Bol’s small printed oeuvre includes this etching made in the year he abandoned the medium.

The artist focuses our attention on the woman's face, chest, hands, and the pear she holds, by picking out the areas with light, leading one to question just what sweet delectations are for sale. While this is only supposition, and the motif of a figure at a window was common at this time, as Eddy de Jongh and Ger Luijten emphasise ‘meaninglessness’ was not a concept understood in seventeenth-century art. Other authors have grappled with the iconographic complexities of this print and come to similar conclusions. The pear, like fruit generally, is frequently linked to earthly delights. Clifford S. Ackley records its appearance in Dutch art and literature of the period, listing examples in which the pear is an emblem connected with the loss of sexual innocence.

The woman is crafted using the finest strokes, which convey the softness of her flesh, light fabric of her dress, heavier weave of her cloak and delicate embroidery of her veil. These are distinguished from the rougher surfaces of the door and bleached stone sill upon which she leans. Tone is used to supreme effect to create a mysterious interior behind her and depth is further accentuated by the fall of her shadow on the door. The half shadow, cast by the fine fabric of her veil on to her brow, is also worth noting. (Masters of the Bitten Line, 2006)

Woman with a Pear
Ferdinand Bol
Production date
146 x 120 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1981
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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