Brian Hunter

Brian Hunter

Posted on 08/23/2013

Photo taken on August 23, 2013

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" I never said you were grunting like a pig- it's the virginals"

" I never said you were grunting like a pig- it's the virginals"
Conventionally known as "The Music Lesson", it's actually not at all clear what the relationship between the two people is. The man looks a bit too fashionably dressed to be a simple music teacher and the fact that has mouth is open has suggested to some art historians that he's actually singing. The mirror suggests interactions and eye contact between the two of them- though there seems to be a disparity between the angle of her head viewed from the rear and that suggested by the mirror....

The bass viol on the floor perhaps hints at flirtation again....

The instrument she's playing is a top range set of virginals, probably made by the Antwerp Ruckers company (a piece of 17th centruy product placement?). It's a type known as a muselar, which had an unusual string plucking action; its use was confined to the Netherlands. Views on muselars seem to have been rather varied- one contemporary suggested that they made a noise like the grunting of young pigs, though more modern musicologists talk of a warm and mellow tone. Either way, they were generally used to accompany singing

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