John Rolfe, who brought it to America from England before 1825; by descent in the Rolfe family to Emily Floyd Gardiner [Mrs. Arthur Z. Gardiner], McLean, Virginia; gift 1972 to NGA.
- Il Gran Teatro del Mondo: L'Anima e il Volto del Settecento, Palazzo Reale, Milan, 2003-2004, no. II.35, repro.
The support is a medium-weight, plain-weave fabric. It was prepared with a white ground of medium thickness and a rust brown imprimatura, which is visible under the thin glazes of the background. The paint layers range from thin washes and scumbles in the background to thick impasto in the white highlights, especially those along the edges of the musical manuscript. The paint was applied without much medium and has a dry appearance, especially in the white highlights. It has a more fluid consistency in the dark shadows. The figures were created with several thin paint layers, over which a network of dabs of thicker paint was applied. X-radiographs reveal that reserves were left for the figures and the chairs, and that small changes were made in the figures. The collar and right hand of the second choirmaster were slightly altered, as were the leg and foot of the figure at far right, whose mouth was changed from open to closed.
The original tacking margins have been removed, but slight cusping is present around all sides. Abrasion and extensive losses, corresponding to the weave of the original support, are present in the paint layer throughout. The losses have been inpainted, especially in the background and around the figures. The varnish is slightly yellowed. The painting was relined, discolored varnish was removed, and the painting was restored by Russell Quandtin in 1965.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 208, repro.
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. Washington, 1979: 1:295-296, 2:pl. 209.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 241, repro.
- 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: 184-188, color repro. 185.