Skip to main content

Jan Miense Molenaer, A Young Man and Woman making Music

Key facts
Full title A Young Man playing a Theorbo and a Young Woman playing a Cittern
Artist Jan Miense Molenaer
Artist dates about 1610 - 1668
Date made probably 1630-2
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 68 × 84 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought (Clarke Fund), 1889
Inventory number NG1293
Location Room 23
Collection Main Collection
A Young Man and Woman making Music
Jan Miense Molenaer

A happy young couple make music in an elegant panelled room with costly furniture. An open door, marble columns on either side, reveals a glimpse of a room beyond, where a fine gauze curtain hangs at a window. The young man sits at his ease, his long fingers plucking the strings of the theorbo – an ancient instrument, now rarely played. The young woman plays the cittern, an instrument that’s easier to master.

Molenaer displays his great skills in painting the many rich textures. He also sets puzzles, putting in objects that could be, and often were, read as symbols in his time. The red stocking and discarded shoe could mean virtue thrown away and suggest a clandestine meeting. But the dog may stand for fidelity and the closed jug for the virtue of the young woman, suggesting that the music they play is a song of true love.

Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download a low-resolution copy of this image for personal use.

License this image

License and download a high-resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low-resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Download low-resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo