Object Image

A Young Woman playing a Harpsichord to a Young Man

An elegantly dressed young woman plays a harpsichord for a man leaning on the instrument. Music is often related to love in Dutch paintings, but in contrast to other genre scenes of this kind the couple don't appear to be flirting. The young woman is concentrating on her sheet of music.

The Latin inscriptions placed on the instrument provide a witty and ironic commentary. The words 'SOLI DEO GLORIA' ('Glory to God alone') appear below the keys, implying that the young woman is playing solely for the glory of God. But the inscription on the open lid reads 'ACTA VIRUM PROBANT' ('actions prove the man'): the young woman's admirer is about to take more active steps. Presumably he will soon join th...

probably 1659
Oil on oak
42.3 x 33.0cm
Image and text © The National Gallery, London, 2024

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