"More than music, string instruments " - Miguel mendoza

This gallery shows representations of string musical instruments. Using paintings from 17th century and with the intention to show how something we see as common, like guitars and orchestral string instruments, can tell us many things even when represented in a pictorial medium. 

This is a clear representation of string instruments in the beginning of the 17th century using a dark color pallet. The title “ Cupid as Victor” is describing what is depicted on this painting and is giving us more than just the representation of the physical instruments. This common representation of love, and the balance that cupid and the instruments cause in the whole composition, can lead to the interpretation that as much as cupid is a symbol of love, the musical instruments are tools to express love.
Allegory of Vanity (Vanitas), Leonaert Bramer, 1630/1650, From the collection of: Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien
The representation of vanity could be another name to describe this painting. Leaning towards a darker value, with more shades than tints, it is showing two women sitting and one of them playing a string instrument. Even though most of the painting seems to be static, the hand position on the woman playing suggests that she is moving. The painting is balanced using the instruments to the right and the woman to the left, creating an equally heavy composition. From the painting’s name it can be implied that music can be a medium to express beauty that, at some point, can lead to vanity.
Still Life with Musical Instruments and Books, Bartholomeo Bettera, Mid-17th century, From the collection of: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Using oil on canvas, this static painting, with heavy detail on the instruments lets us see three string instruments and a key instrument from the time. The instruments have an appearance of a soft texture covered with dust. The lute instruments, both to the right, show a pattern of lines that is common to this curve shaped musical instruments.
Still life with Musical Instruments, Books and Sculpture, Evaristo Baschenis, circa 1650, From the collection of: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Very similar to the previous painting in terms of what is depicted, this painting is showing two plucked string instruments and a violin in a table. For similarities and differences there could be a very long conversation; but a difference that jumps right away is the sculpture on the right that, in a way, is completing the vertical balance of the painting. For similarities and principles of design, we can appreciate, again, the patterns on the lute to the left and right.
The Five Senses, Hearing, GONZALES COQUES, ca. 1650, From the collection of: Muzeul Național Brukenthal
From a series of paintings showing the human senses, this painting depicts a violin player. The position of the player suggests movement and the expression is reinforcing this idea, since he is showing emotion while listening to the violin. Gonzales Coques, the artist, got a very interesting contrast between the soft textures on the sleeves and the vest. His hair is painted with such great detail that is also a very interesting feature of texture. This painting is showing how string musical instruments can express feelings with sound and in visual works of art.
Double Portrait of both Artists, Jean Baptiste de Champaigne and Nicolas de Plattemontagne, 1654, From the collection of: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
The background of this painting is really interesting, and the meaning that the string musical instrument has in it is what makes it so important for this gallery. Both artists represented painted each other. The instrument is just a representation of the harmony between them; this meaning reinforces the idea that musical instruments can mean many things. The painting uses a gray color pallet; even though there are many other colors the most predominant is gray. The position on both artists suggests movement; the comfortable sitting and the hand of the artist on the right reinforce this idea. The contrast between the artists and the background wall, help to see that they are the most important aspect of the painting.
The Suitor's Visit, Gerard ter Borch the Younger, c. 1658, From the collection of: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
In the Suitor’s Visit is depicted a family of three, father, mother and daughter and the suitor, coming through the door, bowing to the mother. The textures used in this painting help to the create contrast and space in it. The suitor and the mother’s clothes are painted with great detail that the fabric’s texture is really present and noticeable. The daughter being in a little more to the back is not so detailed and the father being the furthest is the one with the least detail on his clothes, and overall texture. The main focus of the painting is on the mother, who is receiving the suitor, and the daughter since she is the reason of the visit. This painting is related and is important to this gallery because, the role of the lute, on the 17th century, is very well represented.
Children Teaching a Cat to Dance, known as 'The Dancing Lesson', Jan Havicksz. Steen, 1660 - 1679, From the collection of: Rijksmuseum
The principle of design that can be appreciated in this painting, at first sight, is movement. “The dancing Lesson” depicts a group of children teaching a cat how to dance, and they all appear to be moving to the rhythm and melody of the wind instrument; played by the girl in the blue and yellow clothes. Even though the main focus of the painting is on the scene described before, and the girl playing the wind instrument, this painting is relevant because it is showing that kids were thought how to play. Further more, the lute on the right of the painting is directly related, since it is a string instrument and, from the scene, it could be implied that they play it often too.
Lady at the Virginal with a Gentleman, 'The Music Lesson', Johannes Vermeer, c.1662 - 1665, From the collection of: Royal Collection Trust, UK
“The Music Lesson” relates to this gallery because of one element in particular, the counter bass on the floor. The textures on the floor and the arrangement, as well as the pattern, give the sensation of being far from the main scene. It is a very static painting, even though the fact that the girl is playing and the teacher is conducting, it is only suggesting little movement. Even though the focus on the paint is on the young girl and the teacher, we can see that string instruments were very important and it was common to take music lessons in key and string instruments.
A Woman playing a Lute to Two Men, Gerard ter Borch, about 1667-8, From the collection of: The National Gallery, London
The title is descriptive of what is depicted in this painting, a woman playing the lute to two men. This is makes it very clear how important string instruments were in the 17th century. The main focus of the painting is in the two men and the woman, making a triangle shaped composition. As many of the paintings from this era, the texture is really important, mostly on the woman’s dress, which contrast with the rest of the painting and the men’s clothes creating a very interesting scene to watch.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has 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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