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‘The Concert ’at the National Gallery of Art Plays into Art History

Gerrit van Honthorst, Dutch, 1590 – 1656, The Concert, 1623, oil on canvas. unframed: 123 × 206 cm (48 7/16 × 81 1/8 in.). National Gallery of Art, Washington. Patrons’ Permanent Fund and Florian Carr Fund 2013.38.

Gerrit van Honthorst, Dutch, 1590 – 1656, The Concert, 1623, oil on canvas. unframed: 123 × 206 cm (48 7/16 × 81 1/8 in.). Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

ART NEWS

The Concert, a Dutch masterpiece by Gerrit van Honthorst goes on display at the National Gallery of Art.

WASHINGTON DC—Presently on display at the National Gallery of Art is The Concert, a Dutch masterpiece by Gerrit van Honthorst (1592–1656).   The painting which is on view in a special installation on the main floor of the Gallery’s West Building will be there for six months before it is moved to its permanent placement in the Dutch and Flemish galleries.

The National Gallery of Art announced the acquisition of the Dutch masterpiece two weeks ago. Gerrit van Honthorst (1592–1656) is considered one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age. The Concert, dated 1623, is an important and historic painting that has not been seen publicly since 1795. The acquisition is made possible by the Patrons’ Permanent Fund and Florian Carr Fund.

Honthorst was one of the Utrecht “Caravaggisti,” and like many other European artists of his generation, he traveled to Rome, where he was inspired by the radical stylistic and thematic ideas of Italian Baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.

The Concert, the Gallery’s first painting by Honthorst, is a vital addition to its collection of Caravaggist work. Visitors will have a rare opportunity to experience a painting so significant in terms of scale, skill, and its place in art history. Measuring more than six-feet wide, this festive scene depicts a group of brightly dressed musicians and singers cheerfully following the lead of a concertmaster.

“Until recently, the influence of Caravaggio on the art of Northern Europe had not been represented in the Gallery’s otherwise rich collection of Dutch art,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. “The acquisition in 2009 of Hendrick ter Brugghen’s Bagpipe Player, 1624, was a first step in addressing this gap. Together with the Gallery’s Italian, French, and Spanish Caravaggist paintings, the works by these two Dutch masters convey the enormous impact of Caravaggio’s style in the 17th century.”

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“The painting is in remarkable condition considering its size and history, and conservation treatment at the Gallery has fully restored it to its former glory. Old layers of varnish were removed, a seam was flattened, and careful in painting was applied to damaged or abraded areas of the composition,” said Arthur Wheelock, curator of northern baroque paintings.

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