Young Man Singing


Oil on canvas, relined
Inv. No. 2242

71 × 58.8 cm

zur  Biographie

Dirck van Baburen’s 1622 painting is an early masterpiece of the reception in the north of the great Italian Baroque painter Caravaggio. This circumstance is made clear by the closeness of the vantage point (the music book seems to project from the painting into the space of the viewer); the skilfully chosen view, which frames the figure tightly, to great effect; the expressive pose and physiognomy of the singer; his fantastic costume, which recalls a figure from contemporary theatre; and the powerful and subtle use of light. Dirck van Baburen, who died while still a young man, is one of the most important representatives of the so-called “Utrecht Caravaggists”. From 1615 to 1621, he worked in Rome, where he came into direct contact with Caravaggio’s works, including depictions of half-length figures of musicians. Baburen produced his painting of a young man singing immediately upon his return to Holland, and it is one of the earliest examples of the genre north of the Alps. It also stands at the beginning of the Netherlandish tradition of half-length musicians, which was extremely popular throughout the seventeenth century.

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