Detail from Recorder Player possibly by Cornelis Bloemaert, the younger, after a painting by Dirck van Baburen, 17th century. Dayton C. Miller Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.
after a painting by Dirck van Baburen, painter, ca. 1595-1624
This is a head-and-shoulders portrait of a musician who holds a recorder in his left hand. Facing left, he is seen in three-quarter profile as he turns to gaze at the viewer. He wears a coat, or cloak, with a fur collar and a large cloth cap. The image is a beautifully rendered etching, though some areas of the face may have been engraved. There are two lines of Dutch verse beneath the image, which are translated as follows: "The flute sounds sweet, the sound is noble [or fine] / But, Lord, how an old woman's throat sounds."
The only hint as to the authorship of this print is the monogram, a joined "CD," and handwritten notes by a conservator who recorded what was once written on the old backing of the print: "van Daden." Possibly this was misspelled on the backing, or it was transcribed incorrectly. The name may have been "van Dalen," in which case, it may represent either Cornelis van Dalen the elder (1602-1665), or his son, Cornelis van Dalen the younger (1638-1664). A print by one of the van Dalens after a painting of a man wearing a hat and holding a "flute" by Baburen was recorded by Karl Heinrich von Heinecken in his book, Dictionnaire des artistes..., 4 vols, 1778-1790.
However, the print by van Dalen was in fact a copy of a print called the Flute Player by Cornelis Bloemaert the younger (ca. 1603-1680) of the same Baburen painting. The engraving by Bloemaert is dated 1625, and it is reproduced in a book by Leonard J. Slatkes, Dirck van Baburen (c.1595-1624)..., 1965. The catalogue entry for this print by Bloemaert is in a section of lost works by Baburen that are known only through painted copies or prints. Very thorough documentation on the engraved and painted copies after the lost Baburen painting is given in this catalogue entry on pages 135-136.
The Miller etching resembles almost exactly the reproduction of the print by Cornelis Bloemaert in Slatkes, the only difference being the signature at the lower right corner. The Bloemaert is signed: "C. Bloem: Sculp / et excud: A.1625." It seems uncanny that every detail of the Bloemaert, including the spacing of the lettering in the verse, is nearly identical to the Miller etching. It makes one think that the Miller etching is actually by the hand of Cornelis Bloemaert, that Bloemaert's own copper plate was reused, except his signature and date have been burnished out and have been replaced by the "CD" monogram of one of the van Dalens instead. Regarding the van Dalens, their work is apparently so close stylistically that it is impossible to distinguish the hand of one from the other.
Several prints by Bloemaert and others, after the painting by Baburen, are presented by Nicholas S. Lander in his Web site, Recorder Iconography. He describes the instrument in these prints as a "renaissance style recorder." There is also a mezzotint called The Piper of 1683-1729, in the National Portrait Gallery, London, which is very similar to the Miller print. It was published by John Smith and was based on the same painting by Baburen.
About the Artists
Cornelis Bloemaert, the younger, painter, draughtsman and engraver, ca. 1603-1680
The engraver of the Miller etching, Recorder Player, may very well be Cornelis Bloemaert, the younger, though it is signed by a monogram, "CD," which was probably meant to represent either Cornelis van Dalen the elder (1602-1665), or Cornelis van Dalen the younger (1638-1664), father and son, both 17th-century Dutch draughtsmen, engravers and publishers who worked in Amsterdam. Cornelis Bloemaert the younger was a Dutch painter, draughtsman and engraver. He was the son of Abraham Bloemaert (1566-1651), and was born in Utrecht, but he probably died in Rome. He first studied painting with his father, but then studied engraving with Crispin de Passe (1564-1637), and soon made engraving his specialty. Cornelis Bloemaert traveled to Paris in 1630, and was in Rome by 1634, where he began to engrave works in the collection of Marchese Vincenzo Giustiniani. After the death of the Marchese, Cornelis Bloemaert remained in Rome for the rest of his life, where he found other patrons such as Pietro da Cortona and the Barbarini family.
Hollstein states that the elder van Dalen was born in 1602 in Amsterdam, that he studied with C. Visscher [possibly Claes (Nicolaes) Jansz Visscher,1586 or 1587-1652], or Stoutman, that he worked in England from 1631 to 1642, and that he died in Amsterdam in 1665. Cornelis van Dalen the younger was born in Amsterdam in 1638, was the master of Abraham Blooteling, and he died in Amsterdam in 1664. Bénézit provides a bit more biographical information on these two artists. Apparently, it is nearly impossible to distinguish the work of the father from the son. The younger van Dalen studied with his father and with Cornelis de Visscher (1628 or 1629-1658). The manner of both artists recalls sometimes the work of Abraham Blooteling (1640-1690), or the works of Paulus Pontius (1603-1658) and Bolswert (possibly Schelte Adams Bolswert, ca. 1581-1659). Their prints are often signed "C.D." Examples of their initials are given in Bénézit, usually "C.v.D," but the script resembles the manner in which the "C" and "D" are made in the Miller print. 
Dirck van Baburen, painter, ca. 1595-1624
The artist whose painting on which the Miller etching, Recorder Player, was based was Dirck van Baburen, a Dutch painter who was born in Wijk bij Duurstede about 1595 and who died in Utrecht in 1624. He studied with the painter, Paulus Moreelse (1571-1638), in 1611 in Utrecht, and then traveled to Italy. Baburen was in Parma in 1615 and, in 1617, he and a friend, David de Haen, painted some of the decorations for the church of S. Pietro in Montorio in Rome. Baburen was a successful painter in Rome and had as his patrons Marchese Vincenzo Giustiniani and Cardinal Scipione Borghese. Both Baburen and David de Haen were still in Rome in 1620, but Baburen returned to Utrecht about 1621. He received commissions almost immediately for genre and history paintings. Many were of musicians -- single figures and groups -- in the style of Caravaggio, that is, figures modeled with strong contrasts of light and dark. Though Baburen died when he was only about thirty years old, he was considered one of the finest painters of his period.
- The translation of the Dutch verse from the Miller print is courtesy of Joost Wellen, Washington, D.C., 25 August 2005. [back to article]
- Karl Heinrich von Heinecken in his book, Dictionnaire des artistes, dont nous avons des estampes, avec une notice detaillée de leurs ouvrages gravés. Leipzig: J.G.I. Breitkopf, 1778-1790. 4 vols. Reprinted New York: Johnson Reprint Corp., 1970. LC call number: NE90.H32. See vol. 2, p. 5. [back to article]
- Leonard J. Slatkes, Dirck van Baburen (c.1595-1624): A Dutch Painter in Utrecht and Rome. Utrecht: Haentjens Dekker & Gumbert, 1965, fig. 39, cat. B1. LC call number: ND653.B33S5. [back to article]
- In fact, the measurements of the Miller print, which has been trimmed to the platemark and possibly just inside the platemark at the top and bottom, are very close to the measurements of the Cornelis Bloemaert print as it is described in Hollstein's Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts, ca. 1450-1700, vol. 2, p. 79, no. 284, under Cornelis Bloemaert: "Flute-player. Th. Van Baburen pinx. 1625... 18.1 x 11.1 cm." The signature of Baburen as recorded in Hollstein, though, is different from that reproduced in Slatkes. [back to article]
- Many of their works are included in Hollstein, but the print of the Recorder Player is not among them. There are images of Biblical scenes, mythological subjects, allegorical subjects such as Avarice, the Seasons, or the Continents, genre scenes, as well as portraits of British nobility, including Charles II. However, an engraving of a Lute Player and Dancer with Castanets after D. van Baburen, is mentioned. It is on page 105, no. 28 in Hollstein, but it is not reproduced. It was signed "C.v.D. sculp." Portraits by both van Dalens can be viewed online in the National Portrait Gallery of London Web site (search for van Dalen). Though these portraits are very small reproductions, they seem very conventional. None of these engravings seems to have the freedom of handling that is seen in the Miller print, which reinforces the feeling that the Miller etching is in fact by Cornelis Bloemaert himself. [back to article]
- See Nicholas S. Lander, Recorder Iconography, under Dirck Jaspersz. Van Baburen. [back to article]
- An image of it is available online at the National Portrait Gallery (search for Baburen). [back to article]
- Bénézit (2006 English edition) was the source for the biographical information given here on Cornelis Bloemaert the younger and for some information on the van Dalens. There are conflicting life dates for the van Dalens in some of the biographical sources. However, the life dates given here for the van Dalens are based on those given in Thieme-Becker and in the National Portrait Gallery of London Web site (search for van Dalen). The same life dates are given in F.W.H. Hollstein, Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts, ca. 1450-1700. Amsterdam: Menno Hertzberger, 1949- ; see vol. 5, p. 104, for the van Dalens. Prints and Photographs Division. LC call number: NE663.H6. [back to article]
- For additional biographical information on Dirck van Baburen, as well as reproductions of his work, see Leonard J. Slatkes, Dirck van Baburen (c. 1595-1624): A Dutch Painter in Utrecht and Rome. Utrecht: Haentjens Dekker & Gumbert, 1965. LC call number: ND653.B33S5. See also the biography and catalogue entries on Baburen in the exhibition catalogue, Masters of Light: Dutch Painters in Utrecht in the Golden Age. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997. LC call number: ND651.U88S67 1997. The biography of Baburen given here was derived from this source, page 374. [back to article]