Art / History / Music

(Not) Ancient Music Wednesday: Early 16th Century Venetian Lute Music

Lute is one of my favourite musical instruments I really love to hear while working, writing or reading. Lute was the most important instrument in secular Renaissance era. The player of a lute is called a lutenist, lutanist, “lewtist” or lutist, and a maker of lutes is referred to as a luthier. Lutes at the peak of its time were played and men and women alike.

Lute is featured in a few paintings by Dutch painters from the 17th Century like Vermeer and Hals. I am not entirely sure why the painting by Vermeer is titled Buffoon Playing Lute. To me he looks nothing like a buffoon but more like a happy chap playing lute for other peoples’ entertainment.


Frans Hals, Buffoon Playing A Lute, 70 x 62 cm, Oil on Canvas, circa 1623-24, Collection of Louvre.


Johannes Vermeer, Woman with A Lute, Oil on Canvas, 51.4 x 45.7 cm, circa 1662-63, Collection of NY Metropolitan Museum.


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