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HONTHORST, Gerrit van
(b. 1590, Utrecht, d. 1656, Utrecht)

The Merry Fiddler
Oil on canvas, 108 x 89 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Van Honthorst was renowned during his lifetime for his chiaroscuro paintings but his oeuvre includes other images lacking in spectacular light effects. A striking example is his Merry Violinist. This painting is remarkable for its bold illusionism. The cheerful figure leans over a balustrade, protruding into the viewer's space as his form punctures the picture plane. He sweeps aside the brilliant red carpet whose conspicuous tactility enhances the illusionistic qualities of the canvas.