Theodoor Rombouts (Flemish, 1597–1637)
A Lute Player, c. 1620
Oil on canvas, 43 7/8 x 39 1/4 in.
(111.1 x 99.7 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art. John G. Johnson Collection, 1917
Caravaggio’s paintings of musicians inspired Rombouts’s depiction of a musician tuning his lute. His intense expression suggests that he is both listening to the sound and sizing up the viewer, his audience. The vividly described carpet and still-life objects on the table recall Caravaggio’s similar close-up presentations. However, the colorful treatment of the costume and the robust delineation of the objects place Rombouts’s work within traditions of Flemish and Dutch painting. The still life, like ephemeral music, serves to remind us of the pleasures of life, but also that pleasure is fleeting. The artist also alludes to the five senses: hearing (the lute), taste (the tankard), smell (the pipe), sight (the musical scores), and touch (the knife).
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