Brian Hunter

Brian Hunter

Posted on 08/23/2013

Photo taken on August 23, 2013

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"Have you seen my archlute yet? It's quite something...."

"Have you seen my archlute yet?   It's quite something...."
Jan Steen is probably best known for his depictions of riotous plebeian revelry in pubs (to the extent that his name has become proverbial for chaos in Dutch) Sadly there aren't any of his works in that register in the show (indeed the more raucous end of the music market is rather under-represented). This is Steen in more decorous mode, though there is still something of an undertone here. The young man may be rapt in attention to the music flowing from the lady's fingers- he may equally be trying to get an angle on her cleavage. The decoration on the keyboard instrument implies that she's playing to the greater glory of God but hints that his concerns are more terrestrial. In the background a servant carries an archlute (or theorbo) - one of several instruments which held a considerable erotic charge thanks to its shape. One suspects that if he has his way they won't be confining future discussions to the best way of shaping the bass line for the next family concert