The Music Lesson

Object Details

Title:

The Music Lesson

Artist/Maker(s):

Gerard ter Borch (Dutch, 1617 - 1681)

Culture:

Dutch

Date:

about 1668

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

67.7 x 55.6 cm (26 5/8 x 21 7/8 in.)

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"Love will prevail as long as there is music and merrymaking," wrote Dutch poet Jacob Cats in the 1600s; this painting exemplifies Cats's slogan. As the elegantly dressed woman plays the lute, a man, who may be her instructor, keeps rhythm and time with his hand. The foot warmer in the lower left corner symbolizes love, and the bed suggests an amorous relationship between the man and woman, maybe even seduction.

Gerard ter Borch always set a mood, creating a subtle psychological interplay between the people in his intimate paintings. He delighted in meticulously describing and contrasting varied textures: the soft pile of the woman's velvet jacket, distinguished from its plump white fur trim; the shimmer of her pearl-colored satin dress; the dog's soft, wavy fur; and the variations of wood grain in the cello, furniture, and floor. He noticed even the most minute details, such as the nails in the floorboards and the brass door handle. Ter Borch created about eleven paintings of female lute players, often repeating the motifs of the woman in the satin gown and fur-trimmed jacket, the dog, the foot warmer, the four-poster bed in the background, and the partially opened door.

Provenance
- 1763

Possibly Zeger Hasebroek [Hasebroek sale, April 26, 1763, lot 37.]

- 1779

Chevalier Gabriel François Joseph de Verhulst (Brussels, Belgium) [sold, Verhulst sale, de Neck, Brussels, August 16, 1779, lot 84, to Pierre Fouquet, Jr.]

1779 -

Pierre Fouquet Jr., 1729 - 1800 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

- 1795

Charles d'Arveley

1795

Charles-Alexandre de Calonne, 1734 - 1802 (Paris, France; London, England) [sold, Calonne sale, Skinner & Dyke, London, March 23, 1795, lot 32.]

- 1825

Prince de Galitzine [sold, Galitzine sale, Lebrun, Paris, February 28, 1825, lot 39 to Lambert Jan van Nieuwenhuys.]

1825 -

Lambert Jan van Nieuwenhuys (Brussels, Belgium)

- 1830

Possibly John Fairlie (London, England) [Fairlie sale, London, 1830.]

1830 - 1843

Possibly Michael Peacock, 1785 - 1843 (London, England) [possibly sold, Peacock sale, Foster's, London, February 28, 1844, lot 12.]

1845 -

Charles Heusch, by inheritance to Frederick Heusch.

Frederick Heusch, sold to Lionel (Nathan) de Rothschild, 1871.

and possibly W.E. Duits, Ltd. (London, England), sold to John Enrico Fattorini, probably 1942.

- 1879

Baron Lionel (Nathan) de Rothschild, 1808 - 1879, by inheritance to his wife, Charlotte de Rothschild, 1879.

1879 - 1882

Charlotte de Rothschild, née von Rothschild, Austrian, 1819 - 1884, by bequest to her son, Alfred (Charles) de Rothschild, 1882.

1882 - 1918

Alfred (Charles) de Rothschild, 1842 - 1918 (Seamore Place, England), by inheritance to his nephew, Lionel (Nathan) de Rothschild, 1918.

1918 - 1942

Lionel (Nathan) de Rothschild, 1882 - 1942 (Exbury, Hampshire, England), by inheritance to his son, Edmund (Leopold) de Rothschild, 1942.

1942

Edmund (Leopold) de Rothschild, English, 1916 - 2009, sold to Tancred Borenius, April 15, 1942.

1942

Tancred Borenius, 1885 - 1948

by 1944 - probably 1949

Enrico Fattorini, 1878 - 1949 (Bradford, Yorkshire, England), probably by inheritance to his daughter, Agnes Elizabeth (Fattorini) Roach.

likely 1949 - 1995

Agnes Elizabeth (Fattorini) Roach, 1908 - 1995

1995 - 1997

Agnes Elizabeth (Fattorini) Roach, 1908 - 1995, sold, Sotheby's, London, July 3, 1997, lot 7, to the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Exhibitions
Works of the Old Masters (1871) (Cat. 142)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), 1871
Exhibition of Works by Dutch Masters of the Seventeenth Century (September 22 to September 29, 1944) (Cat. 20)
  • Liverpool City School of Art, (Liverpool), September 22 to September 29, 1944
Dutch Pictures 1450 - 1750 (1952 to 1953) (Cat. 407)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), 1952 to 1953
Innenleben: The History of the Interior (September 23, 1998 to January 10, 1999) (Cat. 407)
  • Städtische Galerie im Städelsches Kunstinstitut, (Frankfurt), September 23, 1998 to January 10, 1999
Johannes Vermeer: Woman in Blue Reading a Letter (February 16 to March 31, 2013) (Cat. 407)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 15 to March 31, 2013
Bibliography

Waagen, Gustav Friedrich. Treasures of Art in Great Britian: Being an Account of the Chief Collections of Paintings, Drawings, Sculptures, Illuminated Mss., &c., &c. 3 vols. (London: John Murray, 1854), vol. 2, p. 116.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 12, ill.

Related Media
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    Audio: The Music Lesson