The Concert ca. 1633

Judith Leyster, The Concert, ca. 1633; Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Along with tavern scenes and intimate domestic genre pieces, Judith Leyster frequently painted musical performance scenes. In The Concert, Leyster accurately depicts elements such as the Baroque violin (made without a chin rest and usually supported against the chest), as well as the woman’s songbook.

The figures shown here are likely portraits. Based on similar individuals in Leyster’s other pictures, scholars have tentatively identified the singer as the artist herself, the violinist as her husband, and the lute player as a family friend. The members of the trio, like all musicians, must work together as a unit, “in concert,” which has led some writers to theorize that this scene symbolizes the virtue of harmony.

Leyster frequently placed her subjects against a plain, monochromatic background. Thus, nothing distracted from the figures, who are all shown in the midst of various actions (bowing or plucking strings and beating time). The deep angle at which the lute is held adds depth to the composition. The varied directions of the musicians’ gazes offer the viewer different focal points.