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Western art

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Girl with a flute

circa 1630


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.


Other Title

Young girl with a flute


circa 1630

Media category


Materials used

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.


Purchased 1967


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Jan van Bijlert

Works in the collection


Shown in 5 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Mr Wick

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


Agnew's, London, Old masters: recent acquisitions, 1967, p 18, no 31.

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Celebrity choice: Dame Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge (exh brochure), Sydney, 1983, np.

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, p 10, col illus p 10.

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.

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, Sydney, 1999, p 26, col illus p 26.

Paul Huys Janssen, Jan van Bijlert (1597/98–1671): catalogue raisonné, Amsterdam, 1998, p 146, no 125, illus p 266, pl 61.

Paul Huys Janssen, Jan van Bijlert (1597/98-1671): schilder in Utrecht, diss., Utrecht, 1994, pp 180–81, no 113.

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.

Cornelia Moiso-Diekamp, Das Pendant in der holländischen Malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts, diss., Frankfurt am Main, 1987, p 301, no B-1-b.

Benedict Nicolson, Caravaggism in Europe, revised edition by Luisa Vertova, 3 vols, London, 1989, vol 1, p 72, illus vol III, fig 1323.

Benedict Nicolson, The Burlington Magazine, "Current and forthcoming exhibitions', London, May 1967, pp 318–21: p 318, illus fig 67, p 319.

Benedict Nicolson, The Burlington Magazine, 'Some Northern Caravaggesques in Russia', Aug 1965, illus p 426. pl. 52, 53

Benedict Nicolson, The internationale Caravagessque movement, Oxford, 1979, p 28.

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.

1967 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1967, p 34, no 46.

Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, vol 9, no 4, Sydney, Jul 1968, pp 409–10: pp 410, 411.

Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 1998 [for the year ended 30 June 1998], Sydney, 1998, p 51. loan.

1967 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1967. No. 46