A Dutch painter working wholly within the tradition of Caravaggio, van Bijlert favoured such low-life settings as taverns, hostelries and brothels for his human and still-life subjects. Most of his pictures, in the fashion of the time, come supplied with an allegorical or moralistic overlay. 'Girl with a flute' is a good example [of van Bijlert favoured low-life settings together with an allegorical or moralistic overlay], dressing up seventeenth-century erotica as a personification of Music. The woman is either promiscuous or a prostitute: her beckoning smile and partially exposed breast are contrivances of seduction, both painterly and sexual. Displayed in a candle-lit interior, this painted coquette would have quickened as well as embodied the pulse of life. The Pushkin Museum owns a companion to van Bijlert's picture: a man plucking a lute.
AGNSW Handbook, 1999.
Young girl with a flute
oil on canvas
108.0 x 85.8 cm sight; 128.0 x 105.0 x 8.0 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed u.r., black oil "J v Bijlert Fe". Not dated.
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Old masters: recent acquisitions, Agnew's, London, London, Apr 1967–06 May 1967
The golden age of Dutch art: seventeenth century paintings from the Rijksmuseum and Australian collections:
P & D Colnaghi and Co, pre 28 Sep 1966, London/England, Purchased by Agnew's, 28 September 1966. Letters sent to Colnaghi's 17 October 2001, 15 May 2002 and 15 March 2003 asking for information on when and from whom they acquired the painting. No response.
Agnew's, London, 28 Sep 1966-20 Apr 1967, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from Agnew's 1967. Purchased from the exhibition 'Old Masters: recent acquisitions', April - May 1967.
Referenced in 9 publications
Agnew's, London, Old masters: recent acquisitions, 1967. cat.no. 31
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 10 (colour illus.).
Bodmer, Revue Internationale d'Art Ancien et Contemporain, Dec 1944, 528.
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', pg. 17-77, Sydney, 1999, 26 (colour illus.).
Norbert Middlekoop, The golden age of Dutch art: seventeenth century paintings from the Rijksmuseum and Australian collections, Perth, 1997, 94, 95 (colour illus.). cat.no. 34, as 'Young woman with flute' c1625-30
Benedict Nicolson, The Burlington Magazine, Exhibition review, May 1967, 318 (illus.). pl. 67
Benedict Nicolson, The Burlington Magazine, 'Some Northern Caravaggesques in Russia', Aug 1965, 426 (illus.). pl. 52, 53
Peter Tomory and Robert Gaston, European Paintings before 1800 in Australian and New Zealand public collections, Sydney, 1989, 101, 102 (illus.). cat.no. 306
Editor Unknown (Editor), 1967 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1967. No. 46