Gerard van Honthorst, The Debauched Student, 1625, Alte Pinakothek, Bavarian State Painting Collections

By Alte Pinakothek, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen

Alte Pinakothek, Bavarian State Painting Collections

Der liederliche Student (1625) by Gerard van HonthorstAlte Pinakothek, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen

At the beginning of the 17th century, companies grouped around tables with musicians, soldiers and elegantly dressed men and women were a popular motif for Dutch painters. These scenes were often associated with the biblical parable of the prodigal son, who had squandered his possessions among harlots.

The globe, the books stacked on top of each other, the hourglass and the open folio distinguish the young man as a student. His desk was, however, swiftly diverted from its intended use to a dining and gambling table.

The open page of the folio also shows that he prefers games and enjoyment over study: Pallas Athene, the goddess of science and wisdom, is wrestling with Bacchus, the god of wine and Amor, the god of love.

In the reflection of the candlelight, the student tries to gague the remaining amount of wine in his jug. He is shown as a "kannekijker", who traditionally embodies a drunkard and is a recurring motif among the Utrecht Caravaggists.

Feather trimming and colourful clothing were among the distinguishing features of prostitutes. Although prostitution was officially forbidden, it was still part of everyday life in the city.

The depictions of such jovial companies are often associated with a moral message. Here it appears in the form of the matchmaker: toothlessly smiling, she enters the scene with a child in her arms...

... whose nose reveals the student unquestionably as the father. Thus she shows the viewer the consequences of this students lack of discipline.

#Kunstminute | Bernd Ebert: Gerard van Honthorst, Der liederliche StudentAlte Pinakothek, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen

Credits: Story

The contents were created in connection with the exhibition "Utrecht, Caravaggio and Europe" at the Alte Pinakothek München. Click here to discover the world of the Caravaggisti.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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