Overview

Orazio Gentileschi was one of the earliest and most gifted painters to be inspired by the genre scenes of Caravaggio in Rome. Here, he must have had in mind Caravaggio's famous picture on the same theme. Orazio's young woman listens intently to a note as it resonates in the pear–shaped body of the instrument. She may be tuning her lute in anticipation of the concert promised by the assortment of recorders, a cornetto and violin, and the song books lying open on the table before her.

The graceful musician and her lute are seen, unexpectedly, from the back, turned three–quarters away from the spectator. Orazio's meticulous attention to detail is such that every surface is described with a precision of focus that gives pleasure to the eye. Dutch painters, famous for their amazingly illusionistic renderings of fabrics, improved their craft by studying Orazio's works. His gift for conveying the textures of fine cloth is shown off here in the sharp gold of the dress, the dull gleam of the scarlet velvet on the stool, and the matte softness of the dark–green cloth covering the table.

Inscription

Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Girolamo Cavazza [d. 1717], Bologna;[1] purchased 3 June 1697 by (Marc Antonio Franceschini) for Prince Johann Adam Andreas of Liechtenstein [1657-1712], Vienna;[2] in the Liechtenstein collection, Vienna, subsequently Vaduz, until 1962;[3] purchased 1962 through (Feilchenfeldt, Zurich) by NGA.

Exhibition History

1911
Mostra del ritratto italiano dalla fine del sec. xvi all'anno 1861, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, 1911, no. 11, 151 (exh. list), 162-163 (subsequent cat. Il ritratto italiano dal Caravaggio al Tiepolo alla mostra..., Bergamo, 1927), as by Caravaggio.
1948
Meisterwerke aus den Sammlungen des Fürsten von Liechtenstein, Kunstmuseum, Lucerne, 1948, no. 47.
1951
Liechtenstein Pictures on Loan to the National Gallery, National Gallery, London, 1951, no. 31, no cat.
1969
In Memoriam, Ailsa Mellon Bruce, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1969, unnumbered checklist.
1979
Paintings of Italian Masters from the Collections of U.S.A. Museums, State Hermitage Museum, Leningrad; Pushkin Museum, Moscow; The Kiev Museum of Western and Eastern Art, 1979 (organized by the Armand Hammer Foundation, Los Angeles).
1990
A Caravaggio Rediscovered: The Lute Player, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1990, no. 15, color plate.
1997
Los Cinco Sentidos y el Arte, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1997, no. V.7, repro.
1999
Caravaggio's 'The Taking of Christ': Saints and Sinners in Baroque Painting, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1999, brochure, no. 8, repro.
2001
Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi: Father and Daughter Painters in Baroque Italy, Museo del Palazzo di Venezia, Rome; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, 2001-2002, no. 22, repro.
2010
Loan to display with the collection, Art Institute of Chicago, 2010.

Bibliography

1896
Bode, Wilhelm. Die fürstlich Liechtenstein'sche Galerie in Wien. Vienna, 1896: 78, engr. by K. Schönbauer, as by Caravaggio.
1906
Kallab, W. "Caravaggio." Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen des allerhöchsten Kaiserhauses (Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien) 27 (1906): 280-281, fig. 5, as by Caravaggio.
1911
Marangoni, Matteo. "La Mostra del ritratto italiano." Vita d'arte 8 (1911): 22, as by Caravaggio.
1911
Tarchiani, Nello. "La mostra del ritrato italiano." Rassegna d'Arte 11 (1911): 87, repro., as by Caravaggio.
1912
Frizzoni, Gustav. "Einige kritische Bemerkungen über italienische Gemälde in der fürstlich Liechtensteinischen Galerie." Jahrbuch des kunsthistorischen Institutes der k.k. Zentralkommission für Denkmalpflege 6 (1912): 97-98, fig. 52, as by Caravaggio.
1914
Longhi, Roberto. "Orazio Borgianii." L'arte 17 (1914): 8, as by Caravaggio. Reprinted in Roberto Longhi, Scritti giovanili, 2 vols., Florence, 1961.
1915
Longhi, Roberto. "Battistello." L'arte 18 (1915): 63, as by Caravaggio. Reprinted in Robert Longthi, Scritti giovanili, 2 vols., Florence, 1961.
1916
Longhi, Robert. "Gentileschi padre e figlia." L'arte 19 (1916): 254, as by Caravaggio.
1920
Rochès, Gabriel. La Caravage. Paris, 1920: 59-60, pl. 5, as by Caravaggio.
1922
Gamba, Carlo. "Orazio Gentileschi." Dedalo 3 (1922): 262-266, repro.
1922
Marangoni, Matteo. "Note sul Caravaggio alla mostra del sei e settecento." Bollettino d'Arte 16 (1922): 224, as not by Caravaggio.
1923
Voss, Hermann. "Caravaggios Frühzeit." Jahrbuch der königlich Preussischen Kunstsammlungen (Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen) 44 (1923): 79-80, tentatively as by Artemisia Gentileschi.
1924
Voss, Hermann. Die Malerei des Barock in Rom. Berlin, 1924: 459, pl. 111.
1946
Marangoni, Matteo. Il Caravaggio. Florence, 1946: 44, pl. 45.
1959
Berne-Joffroy, André. Le dossier caravage. Paris, 1959: 38-39, 45, 50, 106, 110, 114, 138, 144, 159, 176, 179-181, 185, 186, 290, 366, fig. 11.
1960
Golzio, Vincenzo. Il seicento e il settecento. 2 vols. 2nd edition. Turin, 1960: 1305, fig. 1020.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 56.
1966
Bissell, R. Ward. "The Baroque Painter Orazio Gentileschi: His Career in Italy." 2 vols. Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1966: 1:61-63, fig. 57; 2:133-138, no. 26.
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 2:262, color repro.
1967
Bissell, R. Ward. "Orazio Gentileschi's 'Young Woman with a Violin'." Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 46 (1967): 74, repro.
1967
Moir, Alfred. The Italian Followers of Caravaggio. 2 vols. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1967: 1:75, 119; 2:75, fig. 81.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 49, repro.
1971
Bissell, R. Ward. "Orazio Gentileschi: Baroque without Rhetoric." The Art Quarterly 3 (1971): 275-276, repro.
1973
Previtali, Giovanni. "Gentileschi's 'The Samaritan Woman at the Well'." The Burlington Magazine 115 (1973): 358, n. 6.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 148, repro.
1976
Freedberg, Sydney. "Gentileschi's 'Madonna with the Sleeping Christ Child'." The Burlington Magazine 118 (1976): 733, fig. 5.
1978
King, Marian. Adventures in Art: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1978: 40-41, pl. 18.
1979
Nicolson, Benedict. The International Caravaggesque Movement: Lists of Pictures by Caravaggio and His Followers throughout Europe from 1590-1650. Oxford, 1979: 53, pl. 53.
1979
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1979: I:201-203, II:pl. 139.
1979
Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 63, pl. 48.
1981
Bissell, R. Ward. Orazio Gentileschi and the Poetic Tradition in Caravaggesque Painting. University Park, Pennsylvania, 1981: 38-39, 65, 92, n. 16, 111, 158-159, no. 31, color pl. B, figs. 64-66.
1981
Freedberg, Sydney. "Gentileschi's 'Madonna with the Sleeping Christ Child'." In A Dealer's Record: Agnew's 1967-81. London, 1981: 45, fig. 13.
1983
Hibbard, Howard. Caravaggio. New York, 1983: 39.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 232, no 297, color repro.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 172, repro.
1987
Deswarte, Sylvie. "Gentileschi (Orazio)." In Dictionnaire de la Peinture. Paris, 1987: 335.
1989
Garrard, Mary. Artemisia Gentileschi. The Image of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art. Princeton, 1989: 28, repro.
1989
Nicolson, Benedict. Caravaggism in Europe. 2nd edition of International Caravaggesque Movement. Revised and enlarged by Luisa Vertova. 3 vols. Turin, 1989: 1:115, no. 208; 2:fig. 208.
1991
Miller, Dwight C. Marcantonio Franceschini and the Liechtensteins. Cambridge, 1991: 60.
1992
Christiansen, Keith. Italian Painting. New York, 1992: 268.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 108, repro.
1992
Rovi, Alberto. "Precocità del Gentileschi di Brera." Arte Lombarda 101 (1992): 108.
1996
De Grazia, Diane, and Eric Garberson, with Edgar Peters Bowron, Peter M. Lukehart, and Mitchell Merling. Italian Paintings of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1996: 96-101, color repro. 99.
1998
Lapierre, Alexandra. Artemisia un Duel pour L'Immoralite. Robert Laffont, 1998.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 164, no. 123, color repro.

Technical Summary

A vertical strip approximately 10 cm wide is butt-joined to the right side of the painting and was added at a later date. Cusping is visible only along the top, bottom, and right edges of the original support, suggesting that the left edge has been trimmed. The varnish is slightly discolored. The paint is somewhat abraded, especially the tablecloth on the left and the shadowed drapery folds over the figure's right knee. Generously applied overpaint in the shaft of light at the bottom left and on the bottom and right added strips has discolored. The shaft of light in the background may also have been heavily reinforced. The painting was relined, discolored varnish was removed, and the painting was restored in 1963, probably by Frank Sullivan.

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