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A Boy Blowing on a Firebrand

A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.




Gerrit van Honthorst
Dutch, 1592-1656

About this artwork

Depictions like this one of a boy blowing on a burning ember were popular among European painters studying illumination. Artists like Michelangelo and El Greco used this subject to showcase their skills at imitating nature, particularly the fleeting reflections of firelight. After spending several successful years working in Rome, Gerrit van Honthorst brought this theme back with him to the Netherlands, where it was appreciated by sophisticated collectors who recognized its origins in an ancient Roman text.


On View, Gallery 213


Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Gerrit van Honthorst


A Boy Blowing on a Firebrand


Netherlands (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas


75.5 × 64.5 cm (30 × 25 3/8 in.)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds provided by the Old Masters Society, Julius Lewis and the Rhoades Foundation, Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan in memory of Alice Welsh Skilling and in honor of Marlene Welsh Phillips and Martha Wolff, Anne Searle Bent in honor of Martha Wolff, and Scott, Lynda, Jonathan, Shiran, and Lindsey Canel in honor of Martha Wolff; European Painting Discretionary Fund; purchased with funds provided by Chauncey and Marion D. McCormick Family Foundation in honor of Martha Wolff; Marilyn H. Quinn Fund; purchased with funds provided by Mrs. John W. Madigan and Donald and Carol Asher; through prior gifts of Chester D. Tripp and of the Frederick T. Haskell Collection; purchased with funds provided by John D. and Alexandra C. Nichols in honor of Martha Wolff; Murray and Virginia Vale Purchase Fund; through prior gift of George F. Harding Collection; through prior gift of Ambrose Cramer; through prior purchase of Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection; through prior gift of Arthur B. Logan; purchased with funds provided by David Earle III and Marian Pawlick in honor of Martha Wolff

Reference Number


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