Lute Player

Known in many versions

Theodor Rombouts, Flemish (active Antwerp and Italy), 1597? - 1637

Made in Southern Netherlands (modern Belgium), Europe

c. 1620

Oil on canvas

43 3/4 x 39 1/4 inches (111.1 x 99.7 cm) Frame: 49 3/4 x 45 x 3 inches (126.4 x 114.3 x 7.6 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 264, European Art 1500-1850, second floor

Accession Number:
Cat. 679

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

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Lute players were often ridiculed for the inordinate amount of time they devoted to tuning their instruments. The intense look of this street musician seems to underscore the difficulty of the task and suggest that perhaps more than musical harmony is at stake. Showing a musical instrument being tuned was a veiled reference to striving for harmony in love. Stringed instruments could also symbolize temperance, especially when shown in the company of a tankard and a pipe, as here.

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