Jacob Ochtervelt has focused our gaze on a brilliantly dressed woman standing at a virginal. Light falls onto her bare left shoulder and on the huge double dome of red satin that forms the back of the skirt and its train. She seems cut off from an intimate exchange between a female singer and a violinist taking place at the left of the scene.
Two dogs on opposite sides of the room are engaged in a game that sets the flirtatious tone for the painting. Interestingly, the dog on the right was completely painted out in the early 1920s, possibly because it was felt that the music was being ‘drowned by yapping dogs’, as the text in an auction catalogue put it. The map on the background wall is taken from an atlas-sized map of North and South America published in Amsterdam in 1661.
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