This is not the Amsterdam of the Golden Age - it's the late 1700s and the Netherlands have by now become rather marginal to the artistic debate in Europe. However, this rather anecdotic painting by Isaak Ouwater still manages to surprise us by its frontality and flatness. The façade becomes a grid, and instead of offering us a glimpse of the domesticity it protects it only displays an array of empty, dark, abstract rectangles. This is quite striking as the culture of the window is still very strong today in the Netherlands: device to see and to be seen, expression of the ideology of transparency, openness, and directness that has inspired the most heroic moments of Dutch culture from the age of Vermeer to that of the Superdutch.
The painting is striking in and of itself for its composition and abstraction, but, on top of that, it also shows a certain resilience of Dutch visual culture even beyond these moments of glory. Which is, hopefully, somewhat encouraging if we think about the contemporary condition.