Gillis van Tilborgh, Flemish (c. 1625–c. 1678), The Interior of a School Room (1660), Oil on canvas, Gift of Dr. Robert and Benette Gilbert Rosen, 2011.4

This Flemish schoolroom scene shows pupils of various ages and stages of learning gathered together under the eye of the schoolmaster. It resembles an English ‘Petty school’, the earliest stage of education, which taught children the basics of reading and writing in English, and perhaps got them started on some Latin towards the end. At this early stage of learning, girls could attend as well as boys. Though Gillis van Tilborgh’s canvas is crowded, there is a general air of industry and diligence. Note just how many books and papers are featured in the scene.