About This Artwork

Jacob Ochtervelt
Dutch, 1634-1682

The Music Lesson, 1671

Oil on canvas
80.2 x 65.5 cm (31 x 25 3/16 in.)
Sign: Jac. Octervelt

Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1088

One of Jacob Ochtervelt’s finest works, The Music Lesson was probably painted in Rotterdam, where the artist spent most of his career. The delicate light, which illuminates the girl and leaves the youth partly in shadow, is indebted to Johannes Vermeer, who worked in the nearby city of Delft. Characteristic of Ochtervelt, however, are the angled poses and the playful interchange between the figures. The girl holds a violin, an instrument more often played by men, and points authoritatively to the music score in an ironic reversal of the roles of the sexes.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Toledo Museum of Art, Inaugural Exhibition, January 17–February 12, 1912, cat. 197.

Detroit Institute of Arts, The Ninth Loan Exhibition: Dutch Genre and Landscape Painting of the Seventeenth Century, October 16–November 10, 1929, no. 46.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress: Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture, June 1–November 1933, no. 70.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress: Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture, June 1–November 1, 1934, no. 102.

New York, M. Knoedler & Co., Holland Indoors and Outdoors, January 10–29, 1938, no. 22.

New York, Duveen Galleries, Paintings by the Great Dutch Masters of the Seventeenth Century, October 8–November 7, 1942, no. 37.

Montreal, Art Association, Loan Exhibition of Great Paintings: Five Centuries of Dutch Art, March 9–April 9, 1944, no. 84.

Muskegon, Illinois, The Hackley Art Gallery, October 30–November 20, 1949, no. cat.

San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, The Age of Rembrandt: An Exhibition of Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century, October 10–November 13, 1966, no. 86; traveled to The Toledo Museum of Art, November 26, 1966–January 8, 1967, Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, January 21–March 5, 1967.

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Masters of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Genre Painting, March 18–May 13, 1984, no. 88; traveled to Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, June 8–August 12, 1984, London, Royal Academy of Arts, September 7–November 18, 1984.

Art Institute of Chicago, Silk Road: History and Metaphor, 2007, no. cat.

Publication History

Wilhelm von Bode, “Alte Kunstwerke in den Sammlungen der Vereinigten Staaten,” Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst 6 (1895), p. 76.

Wilhelm R. Valentiner, “Jacob Ochtervelt,” Art in America and Elsewhere vol. 2 (New York, 1924), pp. 269–70, 274, 277, fig. 5.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide to the Paintings in the Permanent Collection (Chicago, 1925), p. 160.

“Dutch Genre and Landscape Painting,” The American Magazine of Art 20 (1929), pp. 695, ill., 696.

Frank E. Washburn Freund, “Die Ausstellung altholländischer Malerei in Detroit,” Der Cicerone 21 (1929), pp. 705, ill., 707.

W. Heil, “Holländische Ausstellung im Detroiter Museum,” Pantheon 5 (1930), pp. 35–36, ill.

H. Gerson, “Ochtervelt, Jacob,” in Thieme-Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler, 460 (Leipzig, 1931), p. 556.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide to the Paintings in the Permanent Collection (Chicago, 1932), p. 182.

Eduard Plietzsch, “Jacob Ochtervelt,” Pantheon 20 (December, 1937), pp. 364, 371, ill.

Eduard Plietzsch, Holländische und flämische Maler des XVII. Jahrh. (Leipzig, 1960), p. 67.

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Chicago, 1961), pp. 196, 345, ill.

Susan S. Donahue, “Two Paintings by Ochtervelt in The Wadsworth Atheneum,” Bulletin of the Wadsworth Atheneum 5 (1968), p. 51.

James A. Welu, “Vermeer: His Cartographic Sources,” Art Bulletin 57 (1975), p. 539 n. 49.

E. Bénézit, Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs 7 (Paris, 1976), p. 778.

Susan Donahue Kuretsky, The Paintings of Jacob Ochtervelt, 1634–1682, with Catalogue Raisonné (Oxford, 1979), pp. 23, 28, 33 n. 41, 52, 69, 73, 76, 77, 80, 85, 92, cat. 63, fig. 75.

Peter Hecht, exh. review “London, Royal Academy, Masters of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Genre Painting,” Burlington Magazine 126 (1984), pp. 648, 649, ill.

Peter C. Sutton, A Guide to Dutch Art in America (Grand Rapids, 1986), pp. 52–53, fig. 712.

Svetlana Alpers, “The Mapping Impulse in Dutch Art,” in Art and Cartography: Six Historical Essays, David Woodward, ed. (Chicago, 1987), p. 56, fig. 2.7.

Wayne E. Frantis, Paragons of Virtue: Women and Domesticity in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art (Cambridge and New York, 1993), pp. 53–54, 57, fig. 39.

Friends of Crailo State Historic Site, Clothing the Colonists: Fashions in New Netherlands (Rensselaer, New York, 1995), p. 31, fig. 20.

Susan Donahue Kuretsky, “Ochtervelt, Jacob,” in The Dictionary of Art, vol. 23 (New York, 1996), p. 345.

Ruud Priem, “The ‘most excellent collection’ of Lucretia Johanna van Winter: the years 1809–22,” Simiolus 25 (1997), Appendix I, p. 221, Appendix III, p. 224.

Annette Stott, Holland Mania: The Unknown Dutch Period in American Art and Culture (Woodstock, New York, 1998), pp. 22, 23, fig, 3.

James Cuno and Yo-Yo Ma, “The Silk Road and Beyond: A Conversation with James Cuno and Yo-Yo Ma,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 33 (2007), p. 27, fig. 7.

Ownership History

Pieter van Winter, Amsterdam (died 1807) [according to Priem 1997 on the basis of a drawing from the Praetorius Album by Pieter Ernst Hendrik Praetorius in the Six Collection, Amsterdam showing the contents of the van Winter Collection]; by descent to his heirs until the division of his property in 1818, when it was assigned to the portion of his daughter Lucretia Johanna van Winter [according to Priem 1997]. Presumably Prince Anatole Demidoff, Villa San Donato, near Florence (died 1870); by descent to his nephew Prince Paul Demidoff (died 1885) and later to Paul Demidoff’s widow, Helena Troubetskoi, Pratolino, near Florence; purchased by Martin A. Ryerson (died 1932), Chicago, through Durand-Ruel, Paris in 1890 [purchase through Durand-Ruel established by Day Book in Registrar’s Office, Art Institute (entry for October 31, 1890); Bode 1895 indicated that the painting came from Demidoff]; intermittently on loan to the Art Institute from 1911 [according to registrar’s records]; bequeathed to the Art Institute, 1933.

View mobile website