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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.

Key facts
Artist Jan Miense Molenaer
Artist dates about 1610 - 1668
Full title A Young Man playing a Theorbo and a Young Woman playing a Cittern
Date made probably 1630-2
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 68 x 84 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought (Clarke Fund), 1889
Inventory number NG1293
Location in Gallery Room 25
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