Sunday 23 July 2017


Roger Noons

a small glass of Bols gin.

    ‘Can we speak?’
    ‘I’m rather busy, is it important?’
    ‘It surely is. The girl’s just come back from the market.’ When he didn’t take his gaze from the canvas, she added. ‘With nothing. No food, nothing to drink, not even yesterday’s vegetables. Our credit’s run out Jan, the traders want guilders.’
    ‘Can’t your mother—’
    ‘I’m tired of running to Mama to get us out of trouble.’ The sob was evident in Catharina’s voice. ‘Why can’t you sell one of your paintings? It’s supposed to be the Golden Age, why won’t you send some to the Gallery? You belong to The Guild, I thought that was set up to market your works?’
    ‘My paintings are worth more than people wish to pay. I will wait until I can get a realistic price.’
    ‘And in the meantime we starve. All of us.’ She sighed. ‘I think we have to let Griet go, she gets thinner by the day. It’s not fair on her, we cannot afford a servant.’
    ‘She’s going to sit for me. I think I can make a good tronie which will sell. I’d like you to dress her up.’
    ‘Can’t you do that in your spare time? I’ve heard the brewery by the river is closing. It’s going to be used to make porcelain. The talk around the streets is that it will put Delft on the map. They’ll be looking for people to paint local scenes. You could do that.’
    The look he gave paused her, but having summoned up courage, she continued. ‘You could paint for the weavers, which would be regular work.’
    ‘Catharina, I’m an artist. Dress the girl up, I’ll start tomorrow. And see if you can find an item of jewellery to brighten up her face. It’s rather plain.’

‘Tronie’ is 16-17th Century Dutch for ‘face.’ Used in The Golden Age it referred to a ‘stock character in costume.’

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