A friend from 1624

Woman Tuning a Lute by HonthorstThere are stories of people being deeply struck by a painting, feeling a strong sense of recognition, and falling deeply in love with the person portrayed. When I visited the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts), I was struck, not quite with love, but with recognition of someone who might have been an old friend except for four centuries’ difference. The painting was Woman Tuning a Lute by Gerrit von Honthorst. The subject of this 1624 painting seemed to be someone I’d instantly be at ease with, someone I’d urge to come to the filksing.

I’m not much of an art analyst, but some things which make it work are that she’s tuning, not playing, and that she’s looking joyously not at the viewer, but off to the side. She could be looking at another musician outside the frame, maybe someone she’s getting ready to do a song with. It shows her living and connecting through music, not just performing for an audience.

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