European Painting before 1900, Johnson Collection
Known in many versionsMade in Southern Netherlands (modern Belgium), Europe
Theodor Rombouts, Flemish (active Antwerp and Italy), 1597? - 1637
Oil on canvas
Currently not on view
Cat. 679John G. Johnson Collection, 1917
LabelLute players were often ridiculed for the inordinate amount of time they devoted to tuning their instruments. The intense look of this street musician seems to underscore the difficulty of the task and suggest that perhaps more than musical harmony is at stake. Showing a musical instrument being tuned was a veiled reference to striving for harmony in love. Stringed instruments could also symbolize temperance, especially when shown in the company of a tankard and a pipe, as here.