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Michiel van Musscher

Portrait of a Lady Playing a Lute


Michiel van Musscher
Rotterdam 1645 – Amsterdam 1705


Portrait of a Lady Playing a Lute




Oil on canvas


44.8 x 38.9 cm


Gift of Lord Strathcona and family, inv. 1927.350


Western Art

Though born in Rotterdam, Van Musscher trained in Amsterdam, where he spent almost all of his career. He studied under numerous painters, including Metsu and Van Ostade. Portraiture makes up the majority of Van Musscher’s oeuvre, especially after 1670. Though the sitter of the present portrait is unknown, her presentation is typical of a genre in later seventeenth century painting that showcased the wealthy and erudite partaking in life’s more pleasurable activities. The wealth of the sitter is made abundantly evident by the objects Van Musscher includes in the scene. The colours of the rich Turkish tapestry on the left of the painting are echoed in the satin drapery of the woman, drawing our attention to the richness of the fabrics. Her pearl earrings glisten in the light. Her opulence is further underlined by the garden in the background with its classically inspired statuary and elegant waterfalls. The spontaneity of the figure, who appears to have momentarily stopped playing her lute to address whoever has just entered, is characteristic of Van Musscher.

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