Gerrit van Honthorst

Gerrit van Honthorst, 'A Musical Party', c.1616-18.

Gerrit van Honthorst (Dutch, 1590-1656)
A Musical Party, c.1616-1618

Oil on canvas, 131.5 x 182 cm
Heritage Gift, Lochlann and Brenda Quinn, 2001


Two men and a woman are singing, accompanied by a lute. On the table is a Spanish guitar. The use of candlelight and dramatic chiaroscuro to reveal facial expressions was a favourite device of the artist, and earned him the nickname 'Gerard of the night scenes'. Honthorst had been a pupil of the Utrecht history painter Abraham Bloemart, and subsequently travelled to Rome where he absorbed the work of Caravaggio and his followers. He painted religious and genre subjects at this time, and some of the leading Italian churchmen and nobility were among his patrons. Returning to Utrecht in 1622 he became one of the city's most successful artists, bringing a strong Italian influence.
The solemnity and restrained colour of this scene exemplifies the artist's earlier work. The canvas was acquired in Rome in 1756 for Lord Charlemont, forming part of his renowned collection in Dublin.