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Gerard van Honthorst

(1590–1656, Utrecht)

Circle of. Musicians Playing on a Balcony. Pen and brown ink, grey wash, white heightening on light brown paper; framing line in pen and brown ink. 23.7 x 18.6 cm. Circa 1610–1620.

This scene of musicians playing on a balcony has been executed with rapid, masterly strokes of the pen. The spontaneity of the drawing style is entirely in keeping with the verve demonstrated by the festively dressed players. The deciduous trees in the background and the southern architecture are greatly foreshortened but rendered convincingly nonetheless. The effective, flowing washes help to evoke a very intense atmosphere and great pictorial vividness.

This fine image is probably the work of an anonymous North European Caravaggist made between 1610 and 1620. As regards the subject matter, the drawing is reminiscent of comparable compositions by Gerard van Honthorst, who was active in Rome during this period. However, it is more likely that this charming sheet was done by an anonymous artist from his entourage.

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