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Emanuel de Witte

Interior with a Woman Playing a Virginal


Emanuel de Witte
Alkmaar about 1617 – Amsterdam 1692


Interior with a Woman Playing a Virginal


About 1660-1667


Oil on canvas


97.5 x 109.7 cm


Purchase, John W. Tempest Fund, inv. 1894.41


Western Art

This work has been restored thanks to funding from BNP Paribas (Canada) and BNP Paribas Foundation.

De Witte is one of the most renowned Dutch painters of architectural interiors. His paintings, punctuated with depictions of everyday life, are characterized by lofty spaces, orderly perspectival effects, and a careful rendering of the quality and effect of daylight and atmosphere. This painting, one of his greatest works, was done in Amsterdam but strongly reflects the artist’s early training in Delft. The house depicted is probably imaginary, as such deep houses did not exist in Amsterdam. In the left foreground a man, barely visible, lies in a bed, his clothes tossed on a chair, listening to the music being played. The canvas may depict an adage such as “Love teaches music” or “Music dispels care.” The domesticity of the subject is underscored by the maid seen through the open doors diligently sweeping. A second version of this composition that is cut down in its upper and lower margins – a copy of our painting by the artist himself or a contemporary – is in the collection of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.

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