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.