Girl with a flute
Jan van Bijlert
1597 or 1598 - buried 12 November 1671
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; 127.8 x 105.8 x 8.0 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed u.r., black oil "J v Bijlert Fe". Not dated.
Shown in 5 exhibitions
Old masters: recent acquisitions, Agnew's, London, London, Apr 1967–06 May 1967
Acquisitions 1967, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Mar 1968–01 Apr 1968
Celebrity choice: Dame Joan Sutherland, Richard Bonynge, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Jan 1983–Jan 1983
The golden age of Dutch art: seventeenth century paintings from the Rijksmuseum and Australian collections:
European Old Masters 16th-19th Century from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre, 28 Sep 2017–03 Dec 2017
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 19 publications
Edmund Capon, Great philanthropists on trial : the art of the bequest, 'The James Fairfax collection', Melbourne, 2006, pp 126–35: p 134.
Renée Free, Art and Australia, vol 10, no 1, 'European collection', Sydney, Jul 1972, pp 63–75: p 63.
Benedict Nicolson, The Burlington Magazine, 'Some Northern Caravaggesques in Russia', Aug 1965, illus p 426. pl. 52, 53
Benedict Nicolson, The Burlington Magazine, "Current and forthcoming exhibitions', London, May 1967, pp 318–21: p 318, illus fig 67, p 319.
Jan van Bijlert (1597/98–1671): catalogue raisonné, Amsterdam, 1998, p 146, no 125, illus p 266, pl 61.
Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 1998 [for the year ended 30 June 1998], Sydney, 1998, p 51. loan.
Norbert Middlekoop, The golden age of Dutch art: seventeenth century paintings from the Rijksmuseum and Australian collections, Perth, 1997, p 94, no 34, col illus p 95. As 'Young woman with flute' c1625–30.
Jan van Bijlert (1597/98-1671): schilder in Utrecht, diss., Utrecht, 1994, pp 180–81, no 113.
Caravaggism in Europe, revised edition by Luisa Vertova, 3 vols, London, 1989, vol 1, p 72, illus vol III, fig 1323.
Peter Tomory and Robert Gaston, European Paintings before 1800 in Australian and New Zealand public collections, Sydney, 1989, p 101, no 306, illus p 102.
Das Pendant in der holländischen Malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts, diss., Frankfurt am Main, 1987, p 301, no B-1-b.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Celebrity choice: Dame Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge (exh brochure), Sydney, 1983, np.
Unknown, The internationale Caravagessque movement, Oxford, 1979, p 28.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, p 10, col illus p 10.
Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, vol 9, no 4, Sydney, Jul 1968, pp 409–10: pp 410, 411.
1967 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1967, p 34, no 46.
Old masters: recent acquisitions, 1967, p 18, no 31.
1967 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1967. No. 46
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, Sydney, 1999, p 26, col illus p 26.