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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

The Duet

Photo: Paul Macapia

The Duet

ca. 1629

Jan Miense Molenaer

Dutch, Haarlem, ca. 1610-1668

We may imagine that this is an ordinary scene of a couple playing music in a simple home. However, a seventeenth-century Dutch viewer would have recognized that the setting is not typical but staged-from the neutral backdrop to the lighting to the theatrical costumes, which Molenaer portrayed in several paintings and must have kept on hand in his studio as props.

Music-making was a metaphor for lovemaking, then as now. Judging from the objects and attitudes of the sitters, do you think that is the artist's intended message?

Oil on canvas
25 1/4 x 19 7/8 in. (64.1 x 50.5 cm)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
Provenance: [D. Katz, Dieren, Holland, by 1938 (exhibited Dutch Painting in the Seventeenth Century, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI, Dec 1938-Jan 1939, cat. no. 31)]; Leroy M. Backus (1879-1948), Seattle; on consignment from 1946 to [Schaeffer Galleries, New York, no. 1148 (exhibited Nov 1948, cat. no. 7)] [1]; purchased by Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York, January 28, 1954 (exhibited The Young Rembrandt and His Times, John Herron Art Museum, Indianapolis, IN, 14 Feb – 23 Mar 1958 / The Fine Arts Gallery, San Diego, CA, 11 Apr – 18 May 1958, cat. no. 52); Seattle Art Museum, since 1954, accessioned 1961 [1] Schaeffer Galleries Records, Box 6 Paintings Inventory L-Z, Getty Research Institute
Photo: Paul Macapia
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistoryDetroit, Mich., Detroit Institute of Arts, Frans Hals, Jan. 10-Feb. 28, 1935.

Amsterdam, Netherlands, Dutch and Flemish Paintings, 1938. Cat. no. 59.

Providence, R.I., Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Dutch Painting in the Seventeenth Century, Dec. 1938-Jan. 1939. Text by Wolfgang Stechow. Cat. no. 31, pl. 31.

San Francisco, Calif., Schaeffer Galleries (private residence of LeRoy M. Backus, 115 California St.), Paintings by Dutch Masters, May 7-June 1939. Cat. no. 7 and reproduced on cover.

Indianapolis, Ind., John Herron Art Institute, The Young Rembrandt and His Times, Feb. 14-Mar. 23, 1958 (San Diego, Fine Arts Gallery, Apr. 11-May 18, 1958). Cat. no. 52, reproduced.

Allentown, Pa., Allentown Art Museum, Seventeenth Century Painters of Haarlem, Apr. 2-June 13, 1965. Cat. no. 50, p. 44, reproduced p. 45.

Milwaukee, Wis., Milwaukee Art Center, Wisconsin Inner Circle, 1966.

Philadelphia, Pa., Philadelphia Art Museum, Masters of 17th Century Dutch Genre Painting, Mar. 18-May 13, 1984 (Berlin, Germany, Gemaldegalerie, June 8-Aug. 12, 1984; London, U.K., Royal Academy, Oct. 12-Nov. 18, 1984). Text by Peter Sutton. Cat. no. 77, pl. 19, pp. 260-262 (published in German as Von Frans Hals Bis Vermeer, p. 241, pl. 77).

Haarlem, Netherlands, Frans Halsmuseum, Judith Leyster: A Dutch Master and Her World, May 16-Aug. 22, 1993 (Worcester, Mass., Worcester Art Museum, Sept. 19-Dec. 5, 1993). Text by James A. Welu et al. Cat. no. 29, pp. 286-289, reproduced p. 287.

Raleigh, N.C., North Carolina Museum of Art, A Gift to America: Masterpieces of European Painting from the Samuel H. Kress Collection, Feb. 5- Apr. 24, 1994 (Houston, Tex., Houston Museum of Fine Arts, May 24- Aug. 7, 1994; Seattle, Wash., Seattle Art Museum, Sept. 8- Nov. 27, 1994; San Francisco, Calif., The M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, Dec. 17, 1994- Mar. 4, 1995.) Text by Chiyo Ishikawa. Cat. no. 23, pp. 160-163, reproduced p. 161.

Raleigh, N.C., North Carolina Museum of Art, Jan Miense Molenaer: A Painter of the Dutch Golden Age, Oct. 13, 2002-Jan. 5, 2003 (Columbus, Ind., Indianapolis Museum of Art (Columbus Gallery), Jan. 25-Mar. 16, 2003; Manchester, N.H., The Currier Museum of Art, Apr. 6-June 17, 2003). Text by Dennis Hooger. Cat. no. 7, pp. 84-86, reproduced p. 84.

Published ReferencesSchaeffer Galleries advertisement. Art Digest 13 no. 12 (Mar. 15, 1939): back cover.

"Art Throughout America." Art News 37 no. 35 (May 27, 1939): p. 24.

Schaeffer Galleries Bulletin. New York: Schaeffer Galleries, Nov. 1948; no. 7.

Haward, Lawrence. Music in Painting. [S.I.]: London, England: Faber, 1953; pp. 4-5.

Suida, William and Richard Fuller. European Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. Seattle, Wash.: Seattle Art Museum, 1954; p. 66, reproduced p. 67.

"Pictoral Review." Seattle-Post Intelligencer, December 3, 1961; cover and p. 4.

Music calendar. London, England: Peters Edition, May 29-June 11, 1966.

Van Thiel, Pieter J.J. "Marriage Symbolism in a Musical Party by Jan Miense Molenaar." Simiolus 2, no. 2 (1967-1968): pp. 91-99.

Fischer, Pieter. "Music in Paintings of the Low Countries in the 16th and 17th Centuries." Sonorum Speculum (Donemus Foundation of Amsterdam) 50/51 (1972): pp. 76-91.

Spencer, Robert. "Chitarrone, Theorbo and Archlute." Early Music 4, no. 4 (Oct. 1976): pp. 407-423, detail p. 408.

Raupp, Hans-Joachim. "Musik im Atelier." Oud Holland 92, no. 2 (1978): pp. 106-129.

Leppert, Chard D. "Concert in a House: Musical Iconography and Musical Thought." Early Music 11, no. 1 (Jan. 1979): pp. 3-17.

Robinson, William W. "Family Portraits of the Golden Age." Apollo 110 (Dec. 1979), pp. 490-497.

Hellwig, Friedemann. "The Morphology of Lutes with Extended Bass Strings." Early Music 9, no. 4 (Oct. 1981): pp. 447-454

Sadie, Stanley. “Flute.” The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. London, England: Macmillan Publishers Limited, 1981; p. 353, reproduced fig. 14.

Rasmussen, Mary and Friedrich von Huene. "Some Recorders in 17th-Century Dutch Paintings." Early Music 10, no. 1 (Jan. 1982): p. 34, no. 6, reproduced p. 32.

Franits, Wayne. "The Relationship Between Emblems and Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century." Marsyas 22 (1983-1985): pp. 25-31.

Brown, Christopher. Images of a Golden Past: Dutch Genre Painting of the 17th Century. New York: Abbeville Press, 1984; pp. 134-137.

Sutton, Peter C. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Washington, D.C.: The Netherlands-American Amity Trust. Inc., 1986; no. 429, pp. 284-286.

Weller, Dennis P. "Jan Miense Molenaer (c. 1609/1610-1668): The Life and Art of a Seventeenth-Century Dutch Painter." Ph.D. diss., Graduate School of the University of Maryland, 1992; pp. 1-28, reproduced fig. no. 7.

Liedtke, Walter. "Judith Leyster. Haarlem and Worcester." The Burlington Magazine 135, no. 1089 (Dec. 1993): pp. 856-857, reproduced p. 857.

Rigby, Janet. Clothing the Colonists: Fashion in New Netherland. New York: Friends of Crailo State Historic Site, 1994; p. 32, reproduced fig. 22.

Ishikawa, Chiyo. The Samuel H. Kress Collection at the Seattle Art Museum. Seattle, Wash.: Seattle Art Museum, 1997; fig. 40, pp. 63-64.

Carlone, Mariagrazia and Paul Beier. "Lutes, Archlutes, Theorboes in Iconography." Music in Art 30, no. 1/2 (Spring-Fall 2005): pp. 75-87, pl. 5, reproduced p. 80.

Berger, Jr., Harry. Manhood, Marriage, and Mischief: Rembrandt's 'Night Watch' and Other Dutch Group Portraits. New York: Fordham University Press, 2007; p. 32, fig. 3.

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