Mieris, Frans van (1635 Leiden 1681). The Lute Player. In the company of a gentleman. Steel engraving by Albert Henry Payne (London 1812 – Leipsic 1902). C. 1850. Inscribed: F. von Mieris pinxt. / A. H. Payne sculpt., otherwise in English-German as above. 7⅝ × 5 in (19.5 × 12.6 cm).
“ The man in this painting may be professor Sylvius, who died in the year it was painted … The inventory of his estate, which was drawn up the following year, lists a portrait of den overleiden met sijn laetste huysv[rouw]e van Miris; this may be a reference to our cat. 89 ”
FRANÇOIS DE LE BOË (Sylvius, Hanau 1614 – Leiden 1672), physician and scientist, owned a collection of about 190 paintings, nine of which by Mieris and eleven by Gerard Dou. – Naumann lists the painting as The Music Lesson while Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden give the title as Portrait of François de le Boë (Sylvius) and his Wife.
“ The picture is one of a number of Dutch paintings featuring the lute as a kind of moral symbol. Though moral symbol of WHAT sometimes needs further decoding, since many of them seem to be set in brothels where the lute appears to stand for sensuality and specifically female sensuality.
However, equally often, the lute represents domestic harmony or, more prosaically, well-ordered scenes of domestic music making …
In view of her (French) costume it is therefore particularly appropriate that she should be playing a specifically French type of lute. This 12 course double-headed form is characterised by arranging the unfingered bass strings in a graded sequence of increasing lengths. It was invented by a Frenchman, Jacques Gaultier, sometime before about 1630 … This form of the lute was taken up enthusiastically and became widely used for a long time throughout England and the Netherlands ”
(David van Edwards, Lute of the Month, March 2001). – Top arched.
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(Mr. Z. B., September 12, 2003)