Gerard ter Borch
November 7, 2004 – January 30, 2005
West Building, Main Floor Galleries 74, 75, 76
Gerard ter Borch's paintings often allude to music, a common seventeenth-century metaphor for love and harmony between family members, lovers, or friends. In The Suitor's Visit, the arrival of a gentleman has interrupted a duet. A young woman has risen to greet him, leaving her bass viol and sheet music on the table, while her seated friend continues to strum a lute. In the seventeenth century, both the lute and viol often accompanied singing. Listen to a soloist singing to the accompaniment of seventeenth-century Dutch music played on instruments similar to those in Ter Borch’s painting.
Music: "Queen Alcyone’s Dream" from Haarlem Winter Flowers, 1645/1647; performed by Camerata Trajectina, Pickled Herring, Music from the time of Frans Hals, 2003 (MP3 832k) Audio help
Ter Borch often repeated figures from one painting to another. Both The Music Lesson and The Music Party contain nearly identical images of a young woman holding a French lute as she reaches to turn a page of sheet music. This instrument probably belonged to the artist or a member of his family, as it appears in several of his paintings. The woman and her lute-playing teacher are engaged in a musical duet, implying that their hearts are also attuned to each other. Listen to two selections of seventeenth-century Dutch music composed for two lutes.
Music: A Lark has Died and The Angry Horse from the Lute Book of Johan Thysius (1621 - 1653); performed by Camerata Trajectina, Pickled Herring, Music from the time of Frans Hals, 2003 (MP3 544k and 1.1MB) Audio help
Many seventeenth-century songbooks were entirely devoted to love songs because musical gatherings offered prime opportunities for flirtatious social encounters between men and women. Here, the two young men are apparently singing, although the gaze of the seated youth suggests that his interest lies more with the young woman than with the songbook in his hands. The woman plays a French lute, which has a separate pegbox for a set of longer bass strings. This instrument was especially popular in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries when it served mainly to accompany another musical instrument or singing. Listen to two selections of seventeenth-century music. The first selection is of a French lute; the second selection is a vocal with lute accompaniment.
Music: Nicholas Hotman (died 1663), Courante; performed by Camerata Trajectina, Music from the Golden Age, 1992 (MP3 544k) Audio help
Constantijn Huygens (1596 - 1687), What shall we do?, 1640; performed by Camerata Trajectina, Music from the Golden Age, 1992 (MP3 2.1MB) Audio help
This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.
Overview: 56 paintings by Dutch 17th-century artist Gerard ter Borch were displayed in this exhibition, the first devoted to the artist in the United States. Drawn from over 28 public and private collections, the exhibition included ter Borch’s well-known images of ladies in satin, as well as portraits, depictions of notable events, and scenes of everyday life. In addition to the two exhibition venues, a small selection of paintings was shown at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, from June 9 through September 4, 2005.
A public symposium titled Gerard ter Borch: Contemplating the Interior was held on November 7. The exhibition inspired a 4-part festival, Evenings with ter Borch, held from November 13 through 16. The evenings featured music by 17th-century Dutch and Flemish composers and gallery talks.
Organization: The exhibition was organized by the American Federation of Arts, New York, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., curator of northern baroque painting at the National Gallery, was the curator.
Sponsor: Support was provided by the National Patrons of the AFA. The catalogue was made possible in part by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. The exhibition was supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
Teaching Packet: Gerard ter Borch: A Resource for Educators, by Nelly Silagy Benedek et al. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art; New York: American Federation of Arts, 2004.
Catalog: Gerard ter Borch, by Arthur K. Wheelock. Jr. et al. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art; New York: American Federation of Arts; in association with Yale University Press, 2004.
Brochure: Gerard ter Borch, by Adriaan Waiboer. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 2004.
Other Venues: The Detroit Institute of Arts, February 27–March 22, 2005