The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
It should not be surprising that in a universe as vast as that of 17th-century
Dutch painting, many of its artists are becoming known to us only today. Such
is the case of one Jacobus Vrel (active 1654-1662) who, until recently, has
been lost in the penumbra of Pieter de Hooch and Johannes Vermeer. Neither
the date of his birth nor the date of his death is known; a single dated painting
suggests that his active years occurred somewhere around mid-century. Where
he was born, where he died, and even where he worked also remain unknown.
Amsterdam, Haarlem, Delft, Friesland, and the lower Rhineland have all been
mentioned. Some question whether he was even Dutch: perhaps he was Flemish,
from Antwerp. His name is of limited help, being given as Vrel or sometimes
Frel. What we do know, however, is that the elusive Jacobus Vrel was a very
fine painter. Even a cursory glance at The Little Nurse (cover ) will confirm this reputation
(and help to explain the confusion with de Hooch and Vermeer as well).
Southgate MT. The Little Nurse. JAMA. 2004;291(13):1539. doi:10.1001/jama.291.13.1539