Note: If you see this text you use a browser which does not support usual Web-standards. Therefore the design of Media Art Net will not display correctly. Contents are nevertheless provided. For greatest possible comfort and full functionality you should use one of the recommended browsers.

Themesicon: navigation pathSound and Imageicon: navigation pathSounding Image
Gruppenportrait mit Musikern (Caravaggio)

icon: previous page

a time, he painted a half-figure Group Portrait with Musicians. The youth playing the lute in the centre is surrounded by three other young men, including Caravaggio himself, who is placed behind the lute player on the right and looking at the viewer. He has a horn in his hand. In the background on the left it is possible to make out a winged cupid with a vine. A fourth youth is completely absorbed in studying sheet music. Even if one assumes that these are portraits of musicians from Cardinal del Monte's entourage, the ancient costumes also suggest an allegory, similarly to Giorgione's picture. As well as the homoerotic nature of the piece, its significance includes the allegorical reference to love and music. [13]

In the next century, further development of secular themes led to the emergence of the music still life. Musical instruments depicted alone appear as individual pictures, but also in an allegorical cycle of the human sensory organs. Old inventories record that cycles of this kind were arranged in Baroque chambers of art and curiosities, the predecessors of the modern museum. Rooms of this kind displayed a microcosm of paintings and sculptures, stuffed animals, herbariums,


minerals, optical instruments and much more. Music still lifes do not just depict a whole range of the instruments of the day, the idea of vanity makes them instruments of the vanity of sensual pleasure, indeed quite simply into an allegory of man's short life.

Musical instruments occur in the context of depicting a loose life in countless Baroque genre pictures. Music being played in an inn, at a lovers' tryst or in a society salon becomes the symbol of a morally dubious approach to life.

In Baroque churches, architecture, painting and sculpture enter into a symbiosis under religious conditions for the last time. This aimed to merge all the genres, but also posed the threat of making religious content too superficial. As a response to the Counter-Reformation, Catholic church interiors were redesigned to enhance religious edification: high, vaulted naves, colourful painterly and sculptural decoration, highlighted with gold, an organ. The Catholic Church reacted to the Protestant ban of images with a new and sensual pictorial strategy that was not content with presenting a single image, but included the whole church interior. All the design

icon: next page