This is A Man Smoking and a Woman Drinking in a Courtyard by Pieter de Hooch, painted around 1658-1660. The version on the left is at the Mauritshuis, and the one on the right is at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Pieter de Hooch painted this picture twice, but…. who on earth is that third person?!
At the moment we are doing conservation and restoration work on our version. And guess what we’ve discovered… there used to be a third person in our painting, too! He appeared when a part of the green fence was removed. Whether we leave him there or not will have a big effect on the painting. Without him, this is a nice family scene. If we leave him in the picture, it looks like there’s a drinking game going on. The men are challenging the woman to drink her beer to the next line on the glass (do you see?). If she doesn’t, she has to continue drinking to the one after that.
What do you think - should the man be left in the painting?