Historical Oriental Rugs & Carpets
in Medieval European Paintings
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The Cittern Player
after 1660
Oil on oak, 37 x 30 cm
Staatliche Museen, Kassel

by Gabriel METSU (b. 1629, Leiden, d. 1667, Amsterdam)

The cittern, the pear-shaped, plucked string instrument the young woman is tuning here, was common in the 17th century, only later losing its place to the guitar and the mandolin, to be forgotten today. In Renaissance and Baroque painting, the subject of music is often linked to erotic themes and it is in this sense that one reads the figure of the elegant young man with the wine glass who stands behind the young woman, gazing at her yearningly as she concentrates on her task. Sitting at her side is a dog, a symbol of fidelity. On the table with its cover of oriental carpet, and emphasised by the light, is a still-life-like arrangement of violin and drinking horn.