Overview

Girl with a Flute is only cautiously attributed to Johannes Vermeer. The general character, appearance, and some of the techniques of this work relate closely to Vermeer’s other works, especially to Girl with the Red Hat. The quality of execution, however, does not match the master’s standards, probably because the image was extensively revised in the seventeenth century.

Girl with a Flute is one of only two paintings attributed to Vermeer that are on panel; the other is Girl with the Red Hat. The two works are so close in concept that one has to assume they were created at approximately the same time. In both paintings the young women interact directly with the viewer. Each wears an exotic hat that creates a strong shadow over the greater portion of her face. Each girl sits in a chair with lion finials, leans on one arm, and is framed by a wall tapestry of which only a fragment is visible. Because of the paintings’ slightly different sizes, however, it is unlikely that they were conceived as companion pieces, as has frequently been asserted.

Inscription

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Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Possibly Pieter Claesz van Ruijven [1624-1674], Delft; possibly by inheritance to his wife, Maria de Knuijt [d. 1681]; possibly by inheritance to her daughter, Magdalena van Ruijven [1655-1682], Delft; possibly by inheritance to her husband, Jacobus Abrahamsz. Dissius [1653-1695], Delft;[1] (sale, Amsterdam, 16 May 1696, probably no. 39 or 40).[2] possibly the van Son family; Jan Mahie van Boxtel en Liempde and his wife, Geertruida van Boxtel en Liempde [née van Son, d. 1876], 's-Hertogenbosch; purchased from the estate by their daughter, Jaqueline Gertrude Marie de Grez [Dowager de Grez, née Mahie van Boxtel en Liempde, d. 1917], Brussels, wife of Jonkheer Jan de Grez [1837-1910]; sold by 1911 to (Antiquar E. Jonas, Paris);[3] sold 16 June 1911 to (Thos. Agnew & Sons, Ltd., London); half-share sold June 1911 to (M. Knoedler & Co., New York, and P. & D. Colnaghi, London); Agnew's half-share sold 21 November 1913 to (M. Knoedler & Co., New York);[4] Knoedler's three-quarter share sold July 1915 to (P. & D. Colnaghi, London). August Janssen [1863-1918], Amsterdam, after August 1916.[5] (Jacques Goudstikker, Amsterdam), by 1919; purchased jointly April 1921 by (M. Knoedler & Co., New York, and Frederick Muller & Co., Amsterdam);[6] sold February 1923 to Joseph E. Widener; inheritance from Estate of Peter A. B. Widener by gift through power of appointment of Joseph E. Widener, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, after purchase by funds of the Estate; gift 1942 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1907
Loan to display with permanent collection, Mauritshuis, The Hague, 1907.
1919
La Collection Goudstikker d'Amsterdam, Pulchri Studio, The Hague, 1919, no. 131.
1995
Johannes Vermeer, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Royal Cabinet of Paintings Mauritshuis, The Hague, 1995-1996, no. 23, repro., as Young Girl with a Flute by Circle of Johannes Vermeer.
1998
A Collector's Cabinet, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1998, no. 62.
1999
Johannes Vermeer: The Art of Painting, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1999-2000, not in brochure.

Bibliography

1906
Bredius, Abraham. "Der 36. (oder 37.) Delfter Vermeer." Kunstchronik 18 (1906–1907): 385-386.
1907
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. 8 vols. Translated by Edward G. Hawke. London, 1907-1927: 1(1907):591-592, no. 22d.
1907
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. Jan Vermeer von Delft und Carel Fabritius. Amsterdam, 1907: 32, 34, no. 42, repro.
1907
Martin, Wilhelm. "Jan Vermeer van Delft. Het Meisje met de Fluit." Onze Kunst 12 (July-December 1907): 20-24, repro.
1907
Martin, Wilhelm. "La Jeune Fille à la Flute de Vermeer de Delft." L’Art Flamand & Hollandais 8 (July 1907 ): 20-23, repro.
1910
Veth, Jan. "Gemälde von Johannes Vermeer in niederländischen Sammlungen." Kunst und Künstler 8 (November 1910 ): 102-117.
1911
Plietzsch, Eduard. Vermeer van Delft. Leipzig, 1911: 55, 78-79, 115, no. 13, repro.
1912
Dreyfous, Georges. L'Oeuvre de Jan Vermeer de Delft. Paris, 1912: 29.
1913
Hale, Philip L. Jan Vermeer of Delft. Boston, 1913: 244, 264-265, 373, repro.
1919
Bode, Wilhelm von. Die Meister der holländischen und vlämischen Malerschulen. 2nd ed. Leipzig, 1919: 79.
1920
Hirschmann, Otto. "Die Sammlung August Janssen." Der Cicerone 12 (January 1920): 17-26, 69-77, repro.
1921
Vanzype, Gustave. Jan Vermeer de Delft. Brussels and Paris, 1921: 72, repro.
1923
Paintings in the Collection of Joseph Widener at Lynnewood Hall. Intro. by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1923: unpaginated, repro., as by Jan Vermeer.
1924
Hausenstein, Wilhelm. "Vermeer van Delft." Das Bild Atlanten zur Kunst 10 (1924): 27, fig. 33.
1925
Constable, W.G. "Review of Hausenstein 'Vermeer of Delft' (Das Bild Atlanten zur Kunst, 10. Munich, 1924)." The Burlington Magazine 47 (November 1925): 269.
1925
Cortissoz, Royal. Personalities in Art. New York and London, 1925: 47.
1925
Lavallée, Pierre. "Un Tableau Inconnu de Vermeer: La Jeune Femme au Chapeau Rouge." La Revue de l’Art 47 (1925): 323–324.
1925
Lloyd, David. "The Vermeers in America." International Studio 82 (November 1925): 124, repro. 127.
1927
Siple, Ella S. "Recent Acquisitions by American Collectors." The Burlington Magazine 51, no. 297 (1927): 303.
1929
Lucas, Edward Verrall. Vermeer the Magical. London, 1929: vii-viii.
1929
Wilenski, Reginald Howard. An Introduction to Dutch Art. New York, 1929: 271, 277, 284.
1931
Paintings in the Collection of Joseph Widener at Lynnewood Hall. Intro. by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1931: 100, repro.
1932
Hind, Arthur M. Rembrandt: Being the Substance of the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures Delivered before Harvard University 1930-1931. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1932: 91, repro.
1932
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. "Zum 300. Geburtstag Jan Vermeers, Oktober 1932: Vermeer und die Meister der Holländischen Genremalerei." Pantheon 5 (October 1932): 305-324.
1934
Fell, Herbert Granville. Vermeer. Masterpieces in colour. Edited by T.L. Hare. London and Edinburgh, 1934: 22, 67.
1935
Tietze, Hans. Meisterwerke europäischer Malerei in Amerika. Vienna, 1935: 189, 338, repro.
1937
Hale, Philip Leslie. Vermeer. Edited by Frederick W. Coburn and Ralph T. Hale. Boston and New York, 1937: 132, 143, pl. 28.
1938
Waldmann, Emil. "Die Sammlung Widener." Pantheon 22 (November 1938): repro. 334, 336, 341.
1939
Craven, Thomas A. A Treasury of Art Masterpieces from the Renaissance to the Present Day. New York, 1939: 317-319, color repro.
1939
Plietzsch, Eduard. Vermeer van Delft. Munich, 1939: 29, 63, no. 39, pl. 29.
1939
Tietze, Hans. Masterpieces of European Painting in America. New York, 1939: no. 189, repro.
1939
Vries, Ary Bob de. Jan Vermeer van Delft. Amsterdam, 1939: 48, 88-89, no. 28, pl. 52.
1940
Bodkin, Thomas. "Review of de Vries, Jan Vermeer van Delft, Amsterdam, 1939." The Burlington Magazine 77 (August 1940): 67-68.
1940
Goldscheider, Ludwig. The Paintings of Jan Vermeer. Oxford and New York, 1940: 7, 14, pl. 40.
1941
Comstock, Helen. "The Connoisseur in America." Connoisseur 107 (May 1941): 165-170, repro.
1942
National Gallery of Art. Works of art from the Widener collection. Washington, 1942: 7.
1944
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Masterpieces of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. Translated. New York, 1944: 102, color repro.
1945
Vries, Ary Bob de. Jan Vermeer van Delft. Basel, 1945: 58, 117, no. 28, pl. 53.
1945
Wilenski, Reginald Howard. Dutch Painting. Revised ed. London, 1945: 178, 187.
1946
Blum, André. Vermeer et Thoré-Burger. Geneva, 1946: 30, 194.
1948
National Gallery of Art. Paintings and Sculpture from the Widener Collection. Washington, 1948: 64, repro.
1948
Vries, Ary Bob de. Jan Vermeer van Delft. Translated by Robert Allen. Revised ed. London and New York, 1948: 48, 88-89, no. 28, fig. 52.
1949
Thienen, Frithjof van. Jan Vermeer of Delft. Masters of Painting. New York, 1949: 19, 23, no. 26, repro.
1950
Swillens, P. T. A. Johannes Vermeer: Painter of Delft, 1632–1675. Translated by C.M. Breuning-Williamson. Utrecht, 1950: 64-65, no. E. 1952.
1952
Craven, Thomas A. A Treasury of Art Masterpieces from the Renaissance to the Present Day. Rev. & enlarged ed. New York, 1952: 127, repro. 127, 159 color pl. 79.
1952
Gowing, Lawrence. Vermeer. London, 1952: 64, 145, repro., color repro.
1952
Malraux, André, ed. Vermeer de Delft. Paris, 1952: 94-96, no. xxvi, color repro.
1954
Bloch, Vitale. Tutto la Pittura di Vermeer di Delft. Milan, 1954: 35, pl. 57.
1956
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1956: 10, repro., as by Vermeer.
1957
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in Art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. London, 1957 (reprinted 1959): pl. 80.
1958
Goldscheider, Ludwig. Jan Vermeer: The Paintings. London, 1958: 137, no. 18, color pl. 61.
1959
National Gallery of Art. Paintings and Sculpture from the Widener Collection. Reprint. Washington, DC, 1959: 64, repro.
1960
The National Gallery of Art and Its Collections. Foreword by Perry B. Cott and notes by Otto Stelzer. National Gallery of Art, Washington (undated, 1960s): 26, as by Vermeer.
1961
Mirimonde, Albert P. de. "Les sujets musicaux chez Vermeer de Delft." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 57 (January 1961): 40 fig. 10, 42.
1961
Reitlinger, Gerald. The Rise and Fall of Picture Prices 1760-1960. (Vol. 1 of The Economics of Taste). London, 1961: 483-484.
1963
Bloch, Vitale. All the Paintings of Jan Vermeer. Translated by Michael Kitson. The Complete Library of World Art 15. New York, 1963: 35, pl. 57.
1963
Gimpel, René. Journal d'un collectionneur, marchand de tableaux. Paris, 1963: 228, 234, 415.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.. New York, 1963: 188, repro.
1964
Seymour, Charles, Jr. "Dark Chamber and Light-Filled Room: Vermeer and the Camera Obscura." Art Bulletin 46, no. 3 (1964): 323-331, repro.
1965
National Gallery of Art. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. Washington, 1965: 135, as by Vermeer.
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 2: 258, color repro.
1966
Descargues, Pierre. Vermeer. Translated by James Emmons. Geneva, 1966: 132-133, color repro. 104.
1966
Emiliani, Andrea. Vermeer (1632-1675). Milan, 1966: 9, repro.
1966
Rosenberg, Jakob, Seymour Slive, and Engelbert H. ter Kuile. Dutch Art and Architecture: 1600–1800. Pelican History of Art. Baltimore, 1966: 122, pl. 96a.
1967
Bianconi, Piero. The Complete Paintings of Vermeer. New York, 1967: 94, no. 31, repro., color repro. pl. 41.
1967
Koningsberger, Hans. The World of Vermeer 1632-1675. New York, 1967: 141-142, repro.
1968
Kühn, Hermann. "A Study of the Pigments and the Grounds Used by Jan Vermeer." Report and Studies in the History of Art 2 (1968-1969):194, no. 20.
1968
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968:122, repro.
1970
Gowing, Lawrence. Vermeer. 2nd ed. New York, 1970: 146-147, repro.
1970
Walicki, Michal. Jan Vermeer van Delft. Dresden, 1970: 39-40, 125, fig. 57.
1973
Fahy, Everett, and Francis John Bagott Watson. The Wrightsman Collection. Vol. 5: Paintings, drawings, sculpture. New York, 1973: 313-314, repro.
1973
Mistler, Jean. Vermeer. Collection Le Peintre et l’Homme. Paris, 1973: 45-46, no. 28, color repro.
1973
Sonnenburg, Hubertus von. "Technical Comments." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 31, no. 4 (Summer 1973): unpaginated.
1974
Grimme, Ernst Günther. Jan Vermeer van Delft. Cologne, 1974: 61, no. 22, fig. 14.
1975
Blankert, Albert. Johannes Vermeer van Delft, 1632-1675. Utrecht, 1975: 108-110, 168, 203, repro.
1975
National Gallery of Art. European paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. Washington, 1975: 362, repro.
1976
Wright, Christopher. Vermeer. London, 1976: 47, repro. no. 21, 81.
1978
Blankert, Albert. Vermeer of Delft: Complete Edition of the Paintings. Oxford, 1978: 73-74, 172, cat. B.4, color repro.
1978
Young, Eric. "Review of Christopher Wright, Vermeer, 1976." Apollo 108 (October 1978): 282.
1981
Slatkes, Leonard J. Vermeer and His Contemporaries. New York, 1981: 97-98, repro.
1981
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Jan Vermeer. New York, 1981: 45, 156, color pl. 47.
1984
Rosenberg, Jakob, Seymour Slive, and Engelbert H. ter Kuile. Dutch Art and Architecture. The Pelican History of Art. Revised ed. Harmondsworth, 1984: 122, pl. 96a.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 304, no. 401, color repro., as by Circle of Jan Vermeer.
1985
Brentjens, Yvonne. "Twee meisjes van Vermeer in Washington." Tableau 7 (February 1985): 54-58, repro.
1985
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. Washington, 1985: 421, repro.
1986
Aillaud, Gilles, Albert Blankert, and John Michael Montias. Vermeer. Paris, 1986: 200-201, no. B4, repro.
1989
Montias, John Michael. Vermeer and His Milieu: A Web of Social History. Princeton, 1989: 265.
1990
Liedtke, Walter A. "Dutch Paintings in America: The Collectors and their Ideals." In Great Dutch Paintings from America. Edited by Ben P.J. Broos. Exh. cat. Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The Hague and Zwolle, 1990: 51.
1993
Schneider, Norbert. Jan Vermeer 1632-1675: Verhüllung der Gefühle. Cologne, 1993: 95, no. 71, repro.
1995
Bailey, Martin. Vermeer. London, 1995: 89-90, repro.
1995
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr., and Ben P. J. Broos. Johannes Vermeer. Edited by Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington; Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague. Zwolle, 1995: no. 23, repro.
1995
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1995: 387-393, color repro. 389.
1995
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Vermeer and the Art of Painting. New Haven, 1995: no. A36, repro. 186.
1995
Wright, Christopher. Vermeer: catalogue raisonné. London, 1995: no. 22, 44-45, repro.
1996
Haks, Donald, and Marie Christine van der Sman. Dutch society in the age of Vermeer. Exh. cat. Haags Historisch Museum, The Hague. Zwolle, 1996: Appendix 123.
1996
Hertel, Christiane. Vermeer: Reception and Interpretation. Cambridge, 1996: 73-74, fig. 21.
1996
Hunter, Sam, and Melissa de Mederios. The Rise of the Art World in America: Knoedler at 150. Exh. cat. M. Knoedler & Company, New York, 1996: 13.
1996
Larsen, Erik. Jan Vermeer. Translated by Tania Gargiulo. Biblioteca d'arte. Florence, 1996: no. A 8, 120-121, repro.
1996
Netta, Irene. Das Phänomen Zeit bei Jan Vermeer van Delft: eine Analyse der innerbildlichen Zeitstrukturen seiner ein- und mehrfigurigen Interieurbilder. Studien zur Kunstgeschichte 105. Hildesheim, 1996: fig. 18.
1997
Gowing, Lawrence. Vermeer. 3rd ed. London, 1997: no. 56, repro.
1997
Scholz, Georg. Lyrische Bilder: Gedichte nach Gemälden von Jan Vermeer. Munich, 1997: 52-53, repro.
1997
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Vermeer: The Complete Works. New York, 1997: 50, fig. 21.
1998
Broos, Ben P. J. "Vermeer: Malice and Misconception." In Vermeer Studies. Edited by Ivan Gaskell and Michiel Jonker. Studies in the History of Art 55, Symposium Papers 33 (1998): 25.
1998
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. A Collector's Cabinet. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1998: 68, no. 62.
1999
Sweet, Christopher. The Essential Johannes Vermeer. New York, 1999: 111, repro.
2000
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. The Public and the Private in the Age of Vermeer. Exh. cat. Osaka Municipal Museum of Art. London, 2000: 203, no. 24, repro.
2001
Franits, Wayne E., ed. The Cambridge companion to Vermeer. Cambridge, England, and New York, 2001: pl. 36.
2001
Netta, Irene. Vermeer's world: an artist and his town. Pegasus Library. Munich and New York, 2001: 89, repro.
2002
Bailey, Anthony. Vermeer. Translated by Bettina Blumenberg. Berlin, 2002: 202-203, repro.
2005
Fahy, Everett, ed. The Wrightsman Pictures. New Haven, 2005: 134-135, under cat. 37, fig. 5.
2006
Conforti, Michael. The Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings. Exh. cat. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Williamstown and New Haven, 2006: 48, 50, fig. 53.
2008
Dolnick, Edward. The Forger’s Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century. New York, 2008: 130-131, 142, 169.
2008
Liedtke, Walter A. Vermeer: the complete paintings. Ghent, 2008: no. 25, 140-142, color repro.
2009
Binstock, Benjamin. Vermeer's Family Secrets: Genius, Discovery, and the Unknown Apprentice. New York, 2009: 249-257, repro. 253 (detail).
2012
Tummers, Anna. The Eye of the Connoisseur: Authenticating Paintings by Rembrandt and His Contemporaries. Amsterdam, 2012: 28, 29, color fig. 8.
2012
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr., Walter A. Liedtke, and Sandrina Bandera Bistoletti. Vermeer: il secolo d'oro dell'arte olandese. Exh. cat. Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome. Milan, 2012: 36, 38 fig. 12.
2014
Krempel, León. "Allegorische Tronie-Paare bei Johannes Vermeer." in Tronies: das Gesicht in der frühen Neuzeit. Edited by Dagmar Hirschfelder and León Krempel. Berlin, 2014: 97-107, 123, color pl. 10, as "Synagogue."

Conservation Notes

The support is a single, vertically grained oak panel with beveled edges on the back. Dendrochronology gives a tree felling date in the early 1650s.[1] A thin, smooth, white chalk ground was applied overall, followed by a coarse-textured gray upper ground. A reddish brown painted sketch exists under most areas of the painting and is incorporated into the design in the tapestry.[2]

Full-bodied paint is applied thinly, forming a rough surface texture in lighter passages. In many areas, particularly in the proper left collar and cuff, a distinctive wrinkling, which disturbs the surface, seems to have been scraped down before the final paint layers were applied. Still-wet paint in the proper right cheek and chin was textured with a fingertip, then glazed translucently. The X-radiograph shows extensive design modifications: the proper left shoulder was lowered and the neck opening moved to the viewer’s left; the collar on this side may have been damaged or scraped down before being reworked in a richer, creamy white. The earring was painted over the second collar. These adjustments preceded the completion of the background tapestry. The proper left sleeve was longer, making the cuff closer to the wrist. Probably at the same time, the fur trim was added to the front of the jacket, covering the lower part of the neck opening. Infrared reflectography at 1.1 to 1.8 microns [3] shows that changes also were made to the shape of the hat and contour of the arm on the figure’s proper right side.

The panel has a slight convex warp, a small check in the top edge at the right, and small gouges, rubs, and splinters on the back from nails and handling. The paint is rather abraded in several areas including the decoration of the hat, the sitter’s proper left arm, and the girl’s necklace. There are a number of small losses and areas of abrasion in the background and there is a large loss in the upper portion of the sitter’s proper right collar. The painting was treated in 1995 to remove discolored varnish and inpainting. It had last been treated in 1933 by Louis de Wild.[4]

 

[1] Joseph Bauch and Peter Klein of the Universität Hamburg gave earliest possible felling dates of 1653 and 1651, respectively (see reports in NGA Conservation department files: Bauch, November 29, 1977; and Klein, September 29, 1987).

[2] Hermann Kühn, "A Study of the Pigments and the Grounds Used by Jan Vermeer," Studies in the History of Art (Washington, D.C., 1968), 194, analyzed the pigments. Robert L. Feller, Carnegie Mellon University, found chalk with perhaps a trace of yellow ocher in the ground (see report, dated July 12, 1974, in NGA Conservation department files).

[3] Infrared reflectography was performed with a Santa Barbara focal plane array InSb camera fitted with H and J astronomy filters.

[4] According to a memo dated February 2, 1968, in NGA Conservation files, Louis de Wild "retouch[ed], put down blisters, and revarnish[ed]."

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