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Lorenzo Costa, A Concert

Key facts
Full title A Concert
Artist Lorenzo Costa
Artist dates 1460 - 1535
Date made about 1488-90
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 95.3 × 75.6 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2486
Location Room 10
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Concert
Lorenzo Costa

With this painting, Costa invented a type of image that would become very popular in northern Italy, particularly Venice, in the sixteenth century. The band of singers is engrossed in the camaraderie of their music; as she sings, the young woman keeps time by tapping her fingers against the marble ledge and her companion’s shoulder. He is deep in concentration, his eyes lowered towards the open book containing the musical composition. The young man behind him appears to be straining to reach or hold a note and he too is tapping time on the ledge.

The picture does not depict a particular moment or people. It is more likely that it was made to entertain an educated and wealthy patron who, like his contemporaries, embraced the fashion for cantare a libro (’singing from a book'), a developing trend in northern Italy.

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