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Core Record

Title The Music Lesson
Alternative Title Preparing for a Duet; The Singing Lesson
Collection Cannon Hall Museum, Park and Gardens, Barnsley
Artist Studio of Metsu, Gabriel (Dutch painter, 1629-1667)
Previously attributed to Metsu, Gabriel (Dutch painter, 1629-1667)
Date Earliest possibly about 1655
Date Latest possibly about 1665
Description The Barnsley painting is a seventeenth-century replica of a painting in the National Gallery, London by Gabriel Metsu (NG838). The work's high quality indicates that it came from the artist's studio. The figure of the woman is particularly fine. This is the best of a number of versions of this painting. Metsu was born in Leiden where he worked until he settled in Amsterdam in about 1657 and was probably a pupil of Gerrit Dou. He specialised in scenes of middle class life. The subject of music was popular in seventeenth-century Dutch genre works. The theme of music and love are often associated, this work is therefore allegorical and is intended to symbolise courtship. It is a lesson in love rather than music. This is indicated not only by the longing glance of the teacher at the girl but by the presence of musical instruments and the dog, both of which have strong associations with love.
Current Accession Number A1931
Subject allegory (love); animal (dog); figure; everyday life; interior
Measurements 44.4 x 38.1 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Given by the National Art-Collections Fund 2002.
Provenance Dr. Franks and Mr White, Edinburgh(?); bought from Messrs Rutley, London by William Harvey of Barnsley, 23 March 1861, 220, as The Singing Lesson; by descent to Henry Harvey, JP (1867-1879); by descent to William Harvey of Leeds (1879-1917); given by William Harvey to National Loan Collection Trust, 19 June 1917; transferred to National Art-Collections Fund, 20 May 2002.
Principal Exhibitions National Exhibition of Works of Art, Leeds Infirmary, 1868, cat. no. 657, as The Singing Lesson by Metsu; The Loan Collection of Works by 'Old Masters', and by deceased artists of the English and Foreign Schools, Municipal Art Gallery, Leeds, 1889-90, cat. no. 446, as The Singing Lesson by Metsu; Loan Collection of Pictures, Guildhall, London, 1895, cat. no. 122, as Preparing for a Duet, .
Publications Catalogue of Pictures in the National Loan Collection Trust, London, 1919, 1920, 1928, 1930, 1937, cat. no. 26, ill. pp. 58-59, as by Gabriel Metsu; Catalogue of Pictures in the National Loan Collection Trust, London, 1954, cat. no. 26, p. 10; The William Harvey Collection of Dutch and Flemish Paintings, Cannon Hall Museum, 1975, cat. no. 22; Dutch 17th century Paintings from Yorkshire Public Collections, Leeds, 1982, p. 105.
Notes

The painting at Cannon Hall may be in part by the artist but is more likely to have come from his studio. The quality of the figure of the woman is good but many of the objects in the background are rather sketchily painted. For instance the details on the cloth in the Barnsley version is not as finely painted as in the National Gallery version. Similarly the frame of the painting, the handle of the musical instrument on the table and the figure of Atlas are not detailed in the Barnsley work. In Dutch genre painting the theme of music and love are often associated, therefore this work is an allegory and is intended to symbolise courtship. It is a lesson in love rather than music. This is indicated not only by the longing glance of the teacher at the girl but by the presence of musical instruments and the dog, both of which have associations of love. The dog represents fidelity. The young man is also vying with it for his lady's affections. The caryatid beside the fireplace is a carved figure of Atlas. The viola da gamba on the table also has sexual connotations.

This painting is part of a collection formed by William Harvey of Barnsley (1811-1867). Harvey was a Quaker, whose family made its money in the linen industry. Most of the paintings were acquired between 1849 and 1866 through the dealer Thomas R. Rutley and his son Colonel J. L. Rutley. The company later traded as Messrs Rutley. The collection consists mainly of Dutch and Flemish seventeenth-century paintings. On his death, the collection passed to Harvey's brother, Henry Harvey, J.P. (1814-1879). Nothing was added to the collection during this period and it was passed by descent to a nephew, William Harvey of Leeds. William Harvey of Leeds donated his collection to the National Loan Collection Trust in 1917. The purpose of the Trust was to lend pictures to regional galleries in England and the British Colonies. It was finally agreed to lend the collection on long term loan to Cannon Hall in Barnsley and in 2002 the collection was transferred to them on a permanent basis. The original invoice for this work survives at the NACF.

Rights Owner Cannon Hall Museum (Barnsley Metropolitan Council)
Author Dr Madeleine Korn
 

 

 

 

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