in Holland

Music and Genre in the Paintings of Caravaggio and the Utrecht Caravaggists

1 April to 26 July 2009

The Städel Museum in Frankfurt acquired a significant painting by the Utrecht painter Dirck van Baburen dating from 1622. It shows a young singer presenting a virtuoso sample of his art. This masterpiece of both keen observation and dramatisation is closely related to quite a number of depictions of musicians all of which were carried out in Utrecht in the 1620s. During that period, the Dutch town was an artistic laboratory where painters experimented with the novel pictorial invention, constantly competing for new solutions. The three protagonists among this group of artists – Hendrick Terbrugghen, Gerard van Honthorst, and Dirck van Baburen – sojourned in Rome for an entire decade, where they studied the art of Caravaggio, and soon prevailed with their own compositions executed in the style of their paragon.

This exhibition for the first time offered a comprehensive and high-quality assembly of musicians and brothel scenes by these so-called Utrecht Caravaggists. Their works were juxtaposed with superb paintings by Caravaggio that had served the Utrecht painters as an inspiration. The show revolved around Caravaggio’s famous “Lute Player”, an incunabulum of Baroque portraiture of musicians.

Museums throughout Europe and the United States supported this exhibition with over 40 important loans. Among the lenders were the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

CURATOR: Prof. Dr. Jochen Sander, Städel Museum
SPONSORED BY: Stiftung Flughafen Frankfurt/Main für die Region