A Dutch painter working wholly within the tradition of Caravaggio, van Bijlert favoured such low-life settings as taverns, hostelries and brothels for his human and still-life subjects. Most of his pictures, in the fashion of the time, come supplied with an allegorical or moralistic overlay. 'Girl with a flute' is a good example [of van Bijlert favoured low-life settings together with an allegorical or moralistic overlay], dressing up seventeenth-century erotica as a personification of Music. The woman is either promiscuous or a prostitute: her beckoning smile and partially exposed breast are contrivances of seduction, both painterly and sexual. Displayed in a candle-lit interior, this painted coquette would have quickened as well as embodied the pulse of life. The Pushkin Museum owns a companion to van Bijlert's picture: a man plucking a lute.
AGNSW Handbook, 1999.