Girls playing lute and guitar… – pt. 2

As we saw in the previous post on the pictures of woman playing guitar, by Gerard van Honthorst, had a dubious reputation…

A few months ago I was compiling a lecture for the local historical society. Whenever I give such a presentation I always try to incorporate some local history. One of the Utrecht Caravaggisti was born in Wijk bij Duurstede, about eight kilometres from here.

When I was comparing his paintings for the powerpoint presentation (offcourse the procuress) one thing occurred to me: al lot of te men in the paintings looked the same. Like they were painted after the same model…

Let’s line up some of Baburen’s paintings:


Or the man here on the right…

Pretty close, isn’t it?

And what about the old lady in the back? She also shows quite a resemblance to the other procuresses made by the Utrecht Caravaggisti…

The two paintings with the man holding the lute were offcourse inspired by this famous portrait by Caravaggio, now in the Hermitage st. Petersburg.

But as we can do this with Baburen, maybe we find the same thing by Honthorst? After all, they probably learned the craft from the same master (Abraham Bloemaert)…



Hey, isn’t that strange? A pendant of the two guitar playing woman, but this time with lutes… And they’re both tuning their instruments… Both of these paintings were dated 1624.

And what to think about this one? It is kept in a private collection and was made in 1614…

It seems that Honthorst at least used the same group of models for his paintings.

Hired professionals?
We will probably never know…

The only thing we can say is that the models look like each other. But once you know this you will start seeing the resemblance immediately. Like in this painting of ‘The Prodigal Son”

But also in these paintings of merry drinkers and fiddlers…


And look at the tailpiece of the violin the man in the left picture holds. It’s the same as the tailpiece of this one…

…but also the same as in the picture of the merry group by Baburen  mentioned before…

I hope I didn’t spoil your taste for these paintings. This is just a small sample of the incredible vast amount of Dutch genre paintings with musical instruments.

But what I also would like to show is that we should be careful to use these paintings for recreation of the past. When we look at them we tend to get the idea that our ancestors were always partying. Sex, drugs and Rock & Roll in the Dutch golden age… But what we have to keep in mind is that these were depictions of practices people didn’t approve of. The colorful clothes and feathers are there to show that the wearer is a rake, a carouser. But at the same time our ancestors loved these scenes so much that they bought them in great quantities. The old adage that ‘sex sells’ is even – or perhaps most – true in the golden age.

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