A Woman Playing the Theorbo-Lute and a Cavalier

Artist: Gerard ter Borch the Younger (Dutch, Zwolle 1617–1681 Deventer)

Date: ca. 1658

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: 14 1/2 x 12 3/4 in. (36.8 x 32.4 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913

Accession Number: 14.40.617


Ter Borch was an astute observer of social behavior as well as the physical environment. In this intimate courtship scene, fine fabrics, silver objects, wood, paper, light, and shadows all reveal their distinctive qualities. The woman strums a theorbo and the man appears to sing, a duet that resonates with the heartstrings. The watch quietly recommends temperance.