Den Bosch 1638 – 1689 Utrecht
A Young Woman Holding Sheet Music and Singing
Oil on oak panel 31.6 x 24.4 cm
Signed lower right on the stone balustrade: ‘MM: wijtmans f.’
Datable c. 1670s
Family de Noaille et de Mathurin Rouvray (one of the wax seals on the reverse is theirs)
In a lush garden with marble statues a young woman sits and sings from a songbook. Dressed in blue and brown silks and wearing costly pearls around her neck, in her ears and hair she is an emblem of elegance and refinement. Her fluttering veil and airy feathers give her appearance a frivolous flavour.
The present unpublished panel is a significant addition to Wijtmans’s small oeuvre of about 15 paintings. Similar small and finely crafted panels showing a young man or woman at knee-length singing or playing a musical instrument are preserved in museums across the globe (Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, the Gemäldegalerie in Dresden, Staatliches Museum in Schwerin and the Louvre in Paris). In addition to these refined genre scenes, Wijtmans also painted portraits and still lifes.
Mattheus Wijtmans was the son of Dirk Wijtmans and Ida van den Bosch. The family was catholic and in 1640, when Mattheus was a toddler, left Den Bosch for Gorinchem. Here Mattheus trained with Hendrick Verschuring (1627-1690). By 1664 he was painting. In that year his father paid a bill of the substantial sum of 118 guilders with two paintings of his son. The next year, Mattheus went to Utrecht to further his education under Jan van Bijlert (1597/98-1671). In 1667 he registered as an independent master in the Utrecht guild of St. Luke.