Friday, December 5, 2008

Hendrick Jansz ter Brugghen


Hendrick Jansz ter Brugghen. Laughing Bravo with Bass Viola and Pretzel, 1625

Though known chiefly for his religious paintings this genre piece allows both the artist and the viewer to remain nimble. The musician is a reminder that the sublime can extend beyond the damask. The player may be described as ugly and uncomfortable, tired and filthy but Ter Brugghen reaches beyond these surface matters. Note the brilliantly rendered folds in the shirtsleeves: crevice and shadow. And to the right, the viola's veneer. But Ter Brugghen has not presented us with a mere portrait. Although no doubt based on one of the itinerant musicians who traveled in the Netherlands at the beginning of the seventeenth century, the subject is most probably an allegory. Here the senses of Hearing (the bass viol) and Taste (the pretzel). It is also possible that the artist is illustrating the theme of vanitas whereby the brevity of a joint is equated with a short life-span.

6 comments:

Jan Peeters said...

A delight -- much like ter Brugghen's long-lost (possibly stolen during the War) painting, Geddy Lee with Mini-Bubbler.

Hermann Wundrum said...

The agony of the unseen! The unreleased, the unpublished, the unfinished. What further genius did that synesthete Nabokov hide in The Original of Laura? The teenage poems of a young William Carlos Williams toiling down the hall from old "Ez," eaten by fire. And how did ter Brugghen render the rose tint in Geddy Lee's circular spectacles? An ache in my chest.

Jan Peeters said...

In my dreams, I see this lost painting -- perhaps it is the only place for it to exist anymore.

Hermann Wundrum said...

In a dream of mine (recurring since childhood, coinciding with my first summer with my Aunt in Vaalserberg) I find myself with the ability to transfer my thoughts to the canvas, instantaneously, by enchantment. Just as ter Brugghen, Claesz, Steen and the lot could rend what they saw and observed with flawless acuity.

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Aparna said...

Very beautiful and artist illustration
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