Gerard van Honthorst, The Concert, 1623, National Gallery of Art, Washington

By Alte Pinakothek, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen

Alte Pinakothek, Bavarian State Painting Collections

The Concert (1623) by Gerrit van HonthorstNational Gallery of Art, Washington DC


After his return from Rome in the summer of 1620, Gerard van Honthorst also devoted himself to the portrayal of musicians and musical gatherings. While Hendrick ter Brugghen creates a private, almost intimate atmosphere in his painting, Honthorst’s Concert is far more noble, or showy, in character. Five musicians outfitted in conspicuously colourful clothing and sporting vibrant ostrich feathers gather around a table to rehearse a piece of music.

Although Honthorst was particularly famous for his night scenes, which were atmospherically illuminated by candles or torches ...

... the pictorial space in this work is uniformly and brightly lit by an external light source.

Only the back of the man in the left foreground is depicted in shadow.

To the group of musicians Honthorst adds other figures.

In the background, a young man with flushed cheeks toasts the viewer with a glass of wine.

At the same time, he puts his finger to his lips as if exhorting us to keep quiet and listen to the music.

At the right edge of the painting are two others figures who are not making music, but rather are commenting on what is happening.

This laughing couple is pointing toward the drunken young man with the raised wine glass in his hand. It would appear they have a few words to say about his behaviour.

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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