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Hendrick ter Brugghen (Holland 1588-1629)

Studio of. Laughing man with a violin and a glass

To be sold at Uppsala Auktionskammare’s Important Sale Week 14 – 18 June 2022

Lot 602 Hendrick ter Brugghen (Holland 1588-1629). Studio of. Laughing man with a violin and a glass. Oil on relined canvas, 104 x 83 cm.

Executed ca. 1623-25.
Probably a fragment from a larger composition, compare with a drawing in the Fondation Custodia Paris (Franits, cat. no. D7).
We would like to thank Dr Wayne Franits for confirming the attribution on the basis of a high resolution photograph and for his kind help in cataloguing this lot.


80.000 – 100.000 SEK
€ 7.600 – 10.000


(Possibly) The collection of Emil Goldschmidt Jr., seen by Cornelis Hofstede de Groot.
Sven Boström, Stockholm, until ca. 1954.
Private collection, Stockholm, from 1958.


Hans Wentzel, Unbekannte Werke von Terbrugghen in Dänemark und Schweden, in: Die Kunst und das Schöne Heim, 1954, illustrated p. 123-124 as by Ter Brugghen.
Benedict Nicolson, Hendrick Terbrugghen, 1958, p. 69 and 116, illustrated plate 38b, as probably in part by Ter Brugghen.
Benedict Nicolson, The International Caravaggesque Movement: Lists of pictures by Caravaggio and His Followers throughout Europe from 1590 to 1650, 1979, p. 100, as version one, perhaps executed with studio assistance.
Benedict Nicolson, Caravaggism in Europe I, 1989, p. 194, as version one, perhaps executed with studio assistance.
Oliver Le Bihan, L’or et l’ombre. La peinture hollandaise du XVIIe et du XVIIIe siècles au Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux, 1990, p. 74, note 19.
Leonard J Slatkes and Wayne Franits, The paintings by Hendrick ter Brugghen (1588-1629), 2007, p. 232, no. WTBVB12, illustrated plate 108 on p. 410, as by the joint workshop of Hendrick ter Brugghen and Dirck van Baburen.
Wayne Franits, The Paintings of Dirck van Baburen (c. 1592/3–1624): Catalogue Raisonne, 2013, no. R119, as not by van Baburen.

In context

A Laughing Violinist holding a Glass 

Lost from sight since the 1950s, the present painting’s recent reappearance is to be warmly welcomed since it brings back to light an attractive and highly characteristic Utrecht Caravaggesque painting dating from circa 1623/5, from the workshop of one of the leading painters in the city, Hendrick ter Brugghen. It shows the motif of the single figured musician at half length, which was the most popular pictorial motif among the Utrecht painters in the 1620s.

Hendrick ter Brugghen’s first paintings of such single figured musicians date from 1621. These are the paintings of the ”Flute Player” and the ”Fife Player”, now in the Gemäldegalerie, Kassel (see Slatkes, Franits, op. cit., cat. no’s. A61/2, pl. 60/1). ter Brugghen probably embarked on this motif by the new artistic impulse created by the return of both Gerard van Honthorst and Dirck van Baburen from Italy in 1620/1. For ter Brugghen the single figured musician mean his entrance into Utrecht Caravaggism. 

Drawing, workshop of ter Brugghen, in the Fondation Custodia, Paris.
Drawing, workshop of ter Brugghen, in the Fondation Custodia, Paris.

Two other versions of the present composition are known: the first, showing the musician at bust length, is recorded as in the Steven and Dorothea Green collection, Fisher Island, Florida (Slatkes, Franits, op. cit., cat. no. WTBVB11, pl. 107); of the other with the figure at the same length as seen in the present painting, dated 1625, the present whereabouts is unknown (Slatkes, Franits, op. cit., cat. no. W20, pl. 108A).

While the bust length version, now in Florida, has long been considered as autograph, Slatkes/Franits, (op. cit., p. 231) considered it to be a copy after a now lost tronie from the possible joined workshop of ter Brugghen and Baburen. Recently Franits (private communication) has confirmed that he no longer believes that Baburen and ter Brugghen shared a common workshop. His hypothesis now is therefore that a tronie of the head of the violinist was available as a model in ter Brugghen’s workshop to be adapted by assistants in a variation of compositions. In these compositions the head received fitting arms and bodies. As observed by Nicolson and confirmed by Slatkes/Franits, of the three versions of the laughing violinist the present painting is the best in quality. The head in particular is of high painterly quality, whereas the hands and the musicians’ striped garment is somewhat weaker in style.

The same head occurs in the painting of the ”Pointing Lute Player”, dated 1624, now in a private collection in Switzerland (see Slatkes, Franits, op. cit., cat. no. A72, plate 71). The same date has thus been proposed for the present painting.

The addition on the left throws doubt on the original format of the painting. Perhaps the laughing musician was not a single figure painting after all, but part of a larger group, such as seen in a drawing from the workshop where the laughing violinist sits on the right, now in the Fondation Custodia, Paris (Slatkes, Franits, op. cit., cat. no. D7, fig. 67).

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