Pieter Daniel van der Burgh (1805-1879)

Pieter Daniel van der Burgh (1805-1879)

Pieter Daniel van der Burgh (The Hague 1805 – 1879 Rijswijk)

‘Hondje Plagen’ (‘Teasing the Dog’)

Watercolour on paper, black ink and gold leaf framing lines, 275 x 205 mm (10.8 x 8.1 inch)

Signed and inscribed ‘P:D: Van der Burgh naar F. Miris.’ on the old backing paper (separately mounted)

Private collection, The Netherlands


A man pulls the ear of a little dog sitting on the lap of a woman, who protectively holds the animal and gently pushes away the mischievous man, while still being rather amused by the incident. Another dog in the foreground seems to be barking at the man. The lute on the table, covered with an expensive Persian rug, indicates that music-making has been taking place, and a general jolly and possibly erotic atmosphere pervades the scene.

The figures are dressed in 17th-century costume, and indeed the drawing records a painting by the 17th-century Dutch artist of genre scenes Frans van Mieris (1635-1681), now in the Mauritshuis, The Hague (see last image).1 Dated 1660 and of identical size to the present drawing (27.5 x 20 cm), the models in the painting are the painter himself, and his wife, Cunera van der Cock (1629/30-1700). The painting was famous almost from the moment it was painted, and was the subject of a verse written by Coenraet Droste, its owner at the time, in 1717:

‘Wie heeft met Turks tapyt, bont en fluweele kleeren,
Syn schilderyen oit soo weten te stofferen,
Als d’oude Mieris kost, die hier sich selfs verbeelt,
En op syn Vrouwe schoot met een jong hontje speelt.’2

In an age before photography the only way to get accurate representations of paintings in both design and colouring was through watercolour copies, and the present drawing is such an example. Many copies were commissioned by collectors during the 18th century to include in their albums of ‘teekenkonst’ (drawings), and the present sheet is a relatively late example of the fashion.

The talented Pieter Daniel van der Burgh was taught by his father, Hendrik (1769-1858), and practised as a master draftsman at The Hague. This drawing is likely to be an early work by him, possibly dating to c. 1830, before he established himself as a painter of landscapes and town views. The prototype by Van Mieris was purchased by the Dutch Stadtholder Prince Willem V in 1768 and part of the collections of the Mauritshuis from 1822. Van der Burgh must have been fascinated by the earlier master’s technical skills in representing different fabrics, from the stubborn rug to the woman’s silky garments, and Van der Burgh himself also succeeded in creating a highly skillful ‘picture drawing’.


1. Inv. no. 108. See Quentin Buvelot, Frans van Mieris, exhib. cat. The Hague (Mauritshuis) and Washington (National Gallery of Art) 2006, no. 25.

2. ‘Who has with Turkish rugs, fur and velvet clothes, / Ever furnished his paintings, / As old Mieris, who represents himself here, / And plays with a young dog seated on his wife’s lap.’

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Pieter Daniel van der Burgh (1805-1879)
Pieter Daniel van der Burgh (1805-1879)
Pieter Daniel van der Burgh (1805-1879)
Pieter Daniel van der Burgh (1805-1879)
Pieter Daniel van der Burgh (1805-1879)
Pieter Daniel van der Burgh (1805-1879)
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