Terborch is the most aristocratic of the Dutch genre painters. His subjects are similar to those of Vermeer, Pieter de Hooch, and Metsu. He was formed in the influence of Rembrandt but his style was modified by that of Hals, Van Dyck (with whom he came in contact during a visit to London in 1635), and Velazquez, who seems to have been a deter-mining factor in his development. The Velazquez traits are particularly evident in his portraits, small pictures of the most austere arrangement, mostly full lengths in a silvery gray tone with little or no positive hue. His gamut of colors reminds us of Whistler’s, but his drawing is far more impersonal and his point of view more anonymous. Distinction and reserve were the qualities he cultivated, though at one stage of his career, of which the Soldier and a Young Woman in the Louvre is a famous example, his characterization is more decided. Generally, however, his personages are at-tractive types of the upper middle class. This is the case in the models for the Altman picture.
A young lady in a blue jacket trimmed with ermine is seated beside a table playing the theorbo, her music book before her. A gentleman with long hair, his hat on his knee, sits on the table listening to her music. A watch is close to his hand, and as one is tempted to read a story in these pictures one would say that she is finishing her practising while her impatient cavalier waits to start on the walk or visit which they have arranged. There is a fireplace back of the lady and a map is hanging on the wall.
Terborch painted a number of pictures of a similar motive, ladies making music and listening gentlemen, music parties, music lessons, and so forth. The one which resembles our picture most closely is in the Dresden Gallery. Here the people and the setting are the same, the lady in the same pose though the gentleman has a different posture.
The Lady Playing the Theorbo was acquired by Mr. Altman out of the collection of Lord Ashburton in England.