A Peepshow with Views of the Interior of a Dutch House

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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This peculiar object is a perspective box – a rectangular wooden cabinet painted on the inside and outside, and open on one end to let in light. The inside is painted in such a way that it’s only when we peer through a peephole – there’s one on either side of the cabinet – that we see the illusion of a three-dimensional seventeenth-century Dutch house. The rooms are quiet: one woman lies asleep in bed, while another reads in a chair. The only other living being in the house is a dog, though a man outside peeks in through a window.

Reflecting a fascination with perspective and optical devices, such boxes were produced in the Dutch Republic from about 1650, for a relatively short period of about 25 years. Only six survive today, and this one is the most complex and sophisticated.

The National Gallery, London



A Peepshow with Views of the Interior of a Dutch House


about 1655-60


Oil and egg on wood


H 58 x W 88 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Presented by Sir Robert and Lady Witt through The Art Fund, 1924

Work type


Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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