The Violin Player (Allegory of Hearing)

1608 Harlingen - 1651 Amsterdam
Material: Oil on oak panel
Price: 42 000 EUR
Dimensions: 70,5 x 60 cm
Avaiable on showroom

Jacob Adriaensz Backer was active as a portrait and history painter in Amsterdam at the same time as Rembrandt and independently developed his own style with which he made a name for himself. Peter van den Brink, who organized an exhibition on him in 2008-2009, sees him as a counterpoint to Rembrandt. Backer has modeled himself in the violin player. Seen from the side over his shoulder, the fiddler looks at the viewer with rapt eyes and an open mouth. The coat and shirt threaten to slip off the shoulder. The partly light brown, curly hair is rendered loose and fluffy. Light shiny spots in the eyes, on the nose and on a tooth give the face additional liveliness. Another, somewhat weaker version of the violinist, which Peter van den Brink says may be a workshop piece, is in the Szépművészeti Múzeum in Budapest (wood, 73 × 62 cm, inv. no. 68.11; Peter van den Brink, in: Peter van den Brink et al, Jacob Backer (1608/09–1651), Museum Het Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam & Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum, Aachen, Zwolle, 2009, p. 216, cat.-no. A31). A smaller copy was auctioned in Paris (Hotel Drouot, June 9, 2012, lot 182, wood, 68 × 57 cm). The image comes from a sequence of the five senses and symbolizes hearing. The Utrecht Caravaggists brought the depiction of the senses as half-length figures from Italy to Holland, where the theme was taken up by the Haarlem painters, among others. The subject had been known in printmaking in the Netherlands since the 16th century. Two other paintings from this series by Jacob Backer are known, they are The Drinker (Allegory of Taste) and Old Man with a Mirror Shard (Allegory of the Face), both in the State Museums in Berlin, Picture Gallery (inv. no. 935A and 935B). Opinion by Peter van den Brink, January 21, 2014.

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