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Jan Miense Molenaer, 'Two Boys and a Girl making Music', 1629

Key facts
Full title Two Boys and a Girl making Music
Artist Jan Miense Molenaer
Artist dates about 1610 - 1668
Date made 1629
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 68.3 × 84.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by C.F. Leach, 1943
Inventory number NG5416
Location Room 23
Collection Main Collection
Two Boys and a Girl making Music
Jan Miense Molenaer

The mischievous smiles of three children light up a dreary room with bare walls and little furniture; the barrel suggests it may be the back room of an inn. Their clothes are shabby and torn, but each has a sparkle in the eye and they look at home in their surroundings.

The boy in the red jacket has his bare feet on a woman’s foot warmer empty of coals. Molenaer may have been suggesting that the woman of this family is absent or too busy to sit about in comfort. The empty cage and the broken neck of the large earthenware bottle add to the unruly and slightly enigmatic nature of the scene.

But Molenaer was not only interested in giving us a picture with a story waiting to be teased out. He loved detail, and has painted a reflection of the armour the girl wears in the spoon she holds in her left hand.

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