Woman with the Pear
Between 1642 and 1651, Bol produced approximately 20 etchings. Woman with the Pear was considered to be his most successful print. This particular impression is fine and dark, and does not show any evidence of the wear in the dark passages that one usually finds in impressions of this subject. Slight touches of burr can be found on the figure’s right pinky finger and some of the plush textures of her garments are also enhanced by velvety drypoint burr. Bol’s handling of light is assertive demonstrating strong contrasts between light and dark areas. The print showcases a young woman leaning over a stone window sill holding a pear by its stem in her right hand. Although she wears several layers of clothing, her bosom is exposed and she looks at the viewer in an enigmatic way. Furthermore, her left forefinger points downward. The symbolism of the work includes several erotic features, such as the traditional Dutch genre moral-dilemma motif of a woman at a window, the pear and its associations to Venus and the focus of light on her breasts. All of these elements suggest that the woman might be a soliciting prostitute. Woman with the Pear is a variation in print of Bol’s painted window works that were extraordinarily popular around 1650, when Bol was at the peak of his career as a portraitist.