Trained in Lombardy, Caravaggio moved to Rome around 1592, and he initially made his reputation with a number of realistic paintings of half-length figures, such as this one. This canvas was painted for his first great patron, Cardinal Francesco del Monte. Although it was described by contemporaries as "una musica" (a music piece), it is an allegory of music. Cupid is shown at left. The costumes have a vaguely classical look and Caravaggio included his self-portrait in the second boy from the right.
The Artist: Trained in Milan and active in Rome (1592–1606), Naples (1606–7; 1609–10), Malta (1607–8), and Sicily (1608–9), Caravaggio was one of the most revolutionary figures of European art. His practice of painting directly from posed models violated the idealizing premise of Renaissance theory and promoted a new relationship between painting and viewer by breaking down the conventions that maintained painting as a plausible fiction rather than an extension of everyday experience. Although his career spans little more than fifteen years, the transformation from his earliest works, in which a realist impulse is tempered by delicacy of description, and his late, dark style—at once dramatic in effect and suggestive of the tragic side of life—is immense. Like many young artists arriving in Rome, he worked for other artists and then for a dealer before being "discovered" by a cardinal—Francesco Maria del Monte (1549–1626), who gave him quarters in his palace and promoted his career. Following the clamorous success of his first public commission for three canvases in San Luigi dei Francesi (1599–1600), Caravaggio's work came to be seen in contrast to the idealist style promoted by Annibale Carracci and his pupils (see 1971.155), and the resulting dialectical relationship certainly encouraged the development of the opposing tendencies in their art. In the Cerasi Chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo (1600–1601), the work of both was intentionally juxtaposed. Caravaggio's proclivity towards violence and his inability to get on with his colleagues may also have played a part and these character flaws have loomed large in the biographical interpretation of his paintings. When, of necessity, he fled Rome for Naples in 1606, following a fight after a game of tennis, he was the most famous painter in Italy, and there followed a succession of masterpieces painted with astonishing rapidity and mastery in a dark and expressive style without precedent in European art. The most commanding of these works is an enormous canvas showing the decollation of Saint John the Baptist for the cathedral of Valletta in Malta (1608), where the artist sought to become a knight—and thus to get a papal pardon for his crime in Rome—but instead was thrown in prison following an altercation. He escaped to Sicily and, upon his return to Naples following work in Messina, Syracuse, and Palermo, he was attacked and badly scarred. His death of fever on the coast near Porto Ercole was seized upon by his early biographers as a kind of divine judgment on his character and has proved no less irresistible to modern writers: no other Old Master has been the subject of so many novelistic biographies. The Metropolitan owns two works, one from the beginning and the other from the end of his career, making it possible to appreciate the varied character of his contribution to western art. The Picture: According to Giovanni Baglione (1642), a contemporary painter-author and a primary biographical source, Caravaggio painted "a concert, with some youths portrayed from nature very well" immediately after joining the household of Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte (1549–1626), his first great patron, in about 1595. The Metropolitan's picture, which was discovered only in 1952 (Mahon 1952), is now universally identified with this picture. Del Monte's collection also included two other early pictures by Caravaggio, The Fortune Teller (Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome) and The Cardsharps (Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth), and it seems clear that his interest in Caravaggio's work stemmed from its combination of a naturalistic style and a moralizing theme. Del Monte went on to commission not only The Musicians—perhaps the first work Caravaggio painted expressly for him—but also, a few years later, a personalized variant of a celebrated picture of a lute player that the artist had painted for Vincenzo Giustiniani (State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg). In that work the singer-lutenist, possibly a male soprano (castrato) living in Del Monte’s palace (see Franca Trinchieri Camiz, "The Castrato Singer: From Informal to Formal Portraiture," Artibus et Historiae, no. 18 (1988), pp. 171–86; and Christiansen 1990 and Macioce 2012), wears a classicizing pastoral costume—as though for a performance. The Musicians is envisaged not as a depiction of a contemporary concert, but an allegory of Music and Love (Love being symbolized by the cupid gathering grapes). Scholars agree that the cornetto player is a self-portrait, and it is possible that the lutenist is also a specific individual in Del Monte's household. Caravaggio's manner of working from life reflects his training in Lombardy. In conceiving this allegory, he has not followed the conventional guidelines of Cesare Ripa’s Iconologia—the most commonly used iconographic handbook, first published in Rome in 1593 with a dedication to Del Monte and again, with illustrations, in 1603. (Ripa’s text served as the basis of Laurent de la Hyre’s Allegory of Music, 50.189.) Rather than a single, idealized female figure as Music, Caravaggio has conceived the allegory in a style that remains intentionally and provocatively ambivalent. In a marginal note in his copy of Baglione's Vite, Bellori (1642–90) remarked on the flatness of the composition of The Musicians, which resulted from Caravaggio's piecemeal construction of the work from individually posed models. His concession to the conventional terms of allegory is the winged cupid with grapes. Ripa recommends the inclusion of wine, "since music was created to make spirits light" (Il vino si pone, perche la musica fù ritrovata per tener gli animi allegri come fà il vino . . . ; 1611 ed., pp. 367–68). The early fame of the picture can be gleaned from a series of letters that run from December 27, 1614, through March 13, 1615, from which we learn that the future papal doctor and avid art amateur and treatise writer, Giulio Mancini, had arranged to have copies made of three works by Caravaggio belonging to Cardinal Del Monte: The Fortune Teller, The Cardsharps, and The Musicians (see Maccherini 1997). He paid a professional copyist 15 scudi, the intended buyer being Agostino Chigi. The copy of the Musicians was finished by March 13, 1615, and was sent on to Siena on June 26, since Chigi had decided against buying it. What relation that copy has to do with one that has come down to us (see Additional Images, fig. 1) is uncertain, though the fact that that copy introduced a number of changes would have been unlikely to satisfy so demanding a connoisseur as Mancini. The early history of the picture following Cardinal Del Monte’s death can now be reconstructed with some precision. On May 8, 1628, it was sold in a single lot together with a painting of a carafe of flowers by Caravaggio—a work that has disappeared but was much admired—and a music piece by Bernardino Licinio. Payment was made five days later by Monsignor Prospero Fagnani, who was almost certainly acting on behalf of Cardinal Antonio Barberini (see Lorizzo 2006). It must be the work by Caravaggio that, according to an avviso of July 8, 1634, Cardinal Antonio had "purchased from the Vigna Ludovisi" and gave to Charles I de Blanchefort (1578–1638), Maréchal de Créquy, who was the French ambassador in Rome, together with a work by Lanfranco (erroneously stated to have been purchased from the "Vigna" as well, whereas we know that it was commissioned by the Barberini; see Boyer and Volf 1988). The Vigna Ludovisi refers to Del Monte's casino near the Porta Pinciana, which he sold to Cardinal Ludovisi in 1621. The Musicians then appears in a 1638 posthumous inventory of Créquy's collection and was subsequently owned by Cardinal Richelieu and by the Duchesse d'Aiguillon (Boyer and Volf 1988). A yellow inscription (in capitals) with Caravaggio's name, formerly visible in the lower left corner (but now painted over), is similar to that on another painting that belonged to Créquy, the Supper at Emmaus by Veronese in the Louvre (information kindly furnished by Lizzie Boubli). Créquy's interest in Caravaggio's work is demonstrated by his unsuccessful attempt to purchase the Amor vincit omnia (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin) from Vincenzo Giustiniani (Michael Wiemers, "Caravaggios 'Amore Vincitore' im Urteil eines Romfahrers um 1650," Pantheon 44 (1986), pp. 59–61). The Duchesse d'Aiguillon's 1675 inventory notes that the canvas had been glued to a wooden support, which may have contributed to the poor condition of the painting today. Even the better-preserved passages, such as the head of the lutenist and the still life, have lost much of their subtlety, and the lute is scarcely more than a shape: the strings have been obliterated and the shadows cast by the right hand of the player are only smudges. The violin and upturned page of music have been reconstructed on the basis of the later copy referred to above; none of the musical scores are legible. However, as a result of this drastically compromised state, it is possible to appreciate the manner in which Caravaggio reworked passages to adapt an initially more prosaic image into an elegant and more abstracted allegorical statement. The matter is made even clearer by the X-ray (see Additional Images, fig. 2). The lutenist's shirt and sash, for example, were revised with more rhythmically disposed drapery. His right arm was painted first and the red mantle over it, enhancing the overall design and further distancing the figure from the everyday. In a real sense, the picture was an experiment in a kind of painting that placed new demands on Caravaggio, and the lessons derived from it provided the basis for some of his most poetic works, including the two Lute Players (State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg; and private collection). In the past, a biographical or homoerotic interpretation was often attached to this picture. The compellingly sensual quality of the image should not be minimized—particularly the watery eyes of the lute player whose gaze engages the viewer—but it is doubtful that the picture was intended to convey an explicitly sexual meaning. Caravaggio's bisexuality can be established with some certainty (Wiemers 1986); Del Monte's sexual character is not known, and what bearing, if any, it had on this picture must be based on conjecture. Recent scholarship has more justly laid importance on the kinds of musical performances he sponsored, dominated by the male soprano voice (for a review, see Macioce 2012). [Keith Christiansen 2015]
Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte, Palazzo Madama, Rome (until d. 1626; inv., 1627); his nephew, Uguccione del Monte, Rome (d. 1626); his brother, Alessandro del Monte, Rome (1626–28; sale, Giardino di Ripetta, Rome, May 8, 1628, as "un quadro di Giovani che catano," to Prospero Fagnani, probably for Barberini); ?Cardinal Antonio Barberini, Palazzo Barberini, Rome (from 1628–possibly presented to Créquy in 1634); Marechal Charles I de Créquy, Paris (1634–d. 1638; inv., 1638, no. 119); Cardinal Richelieu, Palais du Cardinal, Paris (until d. 1642; his estate, 1642–50; inv., 1643, no. 996; his estate sale, January 7–February 8, 1650, no. 996, for 1,030 livres tournois to the duchesse d'Aiguillon); his niece, Marie Wignerod de Pontcourlay, duchesse d'Aiguillon, le petit Luxembourg, Paris (1650–d. 1675; inv., 1675, no. 48); David Burns, Fernacre, Whitehaven, Cumberland (by 1920s–d. 1941; inv., 1933, no. 846); Mrs. David Burns, Fernacre (from 1941; sold shortly before her death in 1947 to Cookson); [Joe Cookson, Kendal, Westmoreland, until 1947; sold for £100 to Thwaytes]; Surgeon Captain W. G. Thwaytes, Maulds Meaburn, Penrith (1947–52; sold to MMA)
Fort Worth Art Center. "Inaugural Exhibition," October 8–31, 1954, no. 6 (as "The Musicians").
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Masterpieces of Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 16–November 1, 1970, unnumbered cat. (p. 26).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 15, 1970–February 15, 1971, no. 271.
Cleveland Museum of Art. "Caravaggio and His Followers," October 27, 1971–January 2, 1972, no. 15 (as "A Concert of Youths [Una musica]").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Caravaggio," February 5–April 14, 1985, no. 69.
Naples. Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte. "Caravaggio e il suo tempo," May 14–June 30, 1985, no. 69.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Caravaggio Rediscovered: The Lute Player," February 9–April 22, 1990, no. 3.
Florence. Palazzo Pitti. "Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio," December 12, 1991–March 15, 1992, no. 3 (as "Musica di alcuni giovani").
Rome. Palazzo Ruspoli. "Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio," March 26–May 24, 1992, no. 3.
Athens. National Gallery Alexandros Soutzos Museum. "From El Greco to Cézanne: Masterpieces of European Painting from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," December 13, 1992–April 11, 1993, no. 6.
Madrid. Museo Nacional del Prado. "Caravaggio," September 21–November 21, 1999, unnumbered cat. (pp. 84–89).
Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao. "Caravaggio," November 29, 1999–January 23, 2000, unnumbered cat. (pp. 84–89).
Bergamo. Accademia Carrara. "Caravaggio: La luce nella pittura lombarda," April 12–July 2, 2000, no. 23.
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "The Genius of Rome: 1592–1623," Jaunary 20–April 16, 2001, no. 28.
Rome. Palazzo Venezia. "Il genio di Roma: 1592–1623," May 10–July 31, 2001, no. 28.
Siena. Santa Maria della Scala. "Siena & Roma: Raffaello, Caravaggio e i protagonisti di un legame antico," November 25, 2005–March 5, 2006, no. 6.3.
Naples. Museo di Capodimonte. "Omaggio a Capodimonte: da Caravaggio a Picasso," October 24, 2007–January 20, 2008, no. 11 (as "Concerto di giovani").
Milan. Pinacoteca di Brera. "Caravaggio ospita Caravaggio," January 17–March 29, 2009, unnumbered cat. (p. 50).
Rome. Scuderie del Quirinale. "Caravaggio," February 20–June 13, 2010, unnumbered cat. (pp. 60–67).
Ottawa. National Gallery of Canada. "Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome," June 17–September 11, 2011, no. 1.
Fort Worth. Kimbell Art Museum. "Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome," October 9, 2011–January 8, 2012, no. 1.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Painting Music in the Age of Caravaggio," January 20–April 5, 2015, no catalogue.
Madrid. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. "Caravaggio and the Painters of the North," June 21–September 18, 2016, no. 4.
Giulio Mancini. Letter to his brother Deifebo Mancini. February 20, 1615 [published in Maccherini 1997], states that he has ordered a copy of this work, calling it "la Musica".
Inventory of the Collection of Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte. 1627, fol. 581v [Archivo di Stato, Rome, 30 Notai Capitolini, Paulus Vespignanus, ufficio 28, vol. 138; published in Frommel 1971], lists it as "Una Musica di mano di Michelangelo da Caravaggio con cornice negra di palmi cinque in circa," in the "prima Stanza dell'appartamento novo".
Marco Valentini. Avviso di Roma. July 8, 1634 [Biblioteca Corsini, "Codice corsiniano," 1769; see Ref. Marini 2001, p. 396], announces that Cardinal Antonio Barberini has given Marechal Créquy two paintings, one by Caravaggio (possibly this picture) and one by Lanfranco.
Inventaire de la collection de tableaux de Charles I de Créquy. May 10, 1638, no. CXIX [Archives Nationales, Paris; published in Boyer and Volf 1988; Getty no. F-255], lists it as "une musique du Caravage peincte sur bois et garnie de sa bordure dorée . . . ".
Gio[vanni]. Baglione. Le vite de' pittori, scultori et architetti: dal Pontificato di Gregorio XIII del 1572 in fino a' tempi di Papa Urbano Ottavo nel 1642. Rome, 1642, p. 136, notes that Caravaggio painted for Cardinal del Monte "una musica di alcuni giovani ritratti dal naturale, assai bene".
Giovanni Pietro Bellori. marginal notes in Giovanni Baglione, "Le vite de' pittori scultori et architetti . . . ". [1642–90], p. 136, notes that the figures are all in one plane.
Inventaire après décès du cardinal de Richelieu. January 29, 1643, no. 996 [Archives Nationales, Paris; published in Honor Levi, "L'inventaire après décès du cardinal de Richelieu," Archives de l'art français 27 (1985), p. 62; Getty no. F-192], as "un aultre tableau d'un Concert de musique le premier oeuvre de Caravege garny de sa bordure de bois doré"; value estimated by Simon Vouet and Laurent de La Hyre at 1,000 livres tournois.
Gio[vanni]. Pietro Bellori. Le vite de' pittori, scultori e architetti moderni. Rome, 1672, p. 204, observes that Caravaggio painted for Cardinal del Monte "une musica di giovini ritratti dal naturale in mezze figure".
Inventory of the collection of the duchesse d'Aiguillon. 1675, no. 48 [see Boyer and Volf 1988], as "Un aut tableau peint sur toille cole sur bois ft par Miquelange Caravage representant une simphonie . . . ".
Wolfgang Kallab. "Caravaggio." Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen des allerhöchsten Kaiserhauses 26 (1906–7), p. 280, mentions it as a lost painting of a musical group made for Cardinal "Montalto" [sic].
D. Graham Burns. Inventory of pottery, porcelain, pictures etc. at Fernacre, Whitehaven. August 1933, no. 846 [see Ref. Nicolson 1952], as "A musical party signed Helang da Caravagio 36 x 46".
Denis Mahon. "Addenda to Caravaggio." Burlington Magazine 94 (January 1952), pp. 3–4, 7–10, 19, figs. 1, 2 (overall and detail), reports its discovery by David Carritt in an English private collection, and identifies it with the "musica" by Caravaggio mentioned by Baglione [see Ref. 1642] and Bellori [see Ref. 1672] in Cardinal del Monte's collection; notes that it has been cut down slightly and that the inscription, dating from not later than the eighteenth century, may transfer information from the back of the canvas; describes the condition and believes that Caravaggio abandoned the wings on the figure at the far left at an early stage of the painting; dates it 1594–95 and discusses it in the context of other works from Caravaggio's early period.
Denis Mahon. "An Addition to Caravaggio's Early Period." Paragone 3 (January 1952), pp. 20–31, pls. 14–17 (overall and details), notes that it has been relined at least twice, and adds that the dimensions are very close to those of the Lute Player in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, also painted for Cardinal del Monte; comments on the influence of Moretto and Savoldo.
R[oberto]. L[onghi]. "Novelletta del Caravaggio 'invertito'." Paragone 3 (January 1952), p. 62, takes exception to the homoerotic interpretation of Caravaggio's early paintings, including this one.
Fritz Baumgart. "Die Anfänge Caravaggios." Zeitschrift für Kunstwissenschaft 6, no. 1/2 (1952), pp. 97–98, fig. 7, dates it 1589.
Costantino Baroni. Tutta la pittura del Caravaggio. 3rd ed. Milan, 1952, p. 17, pl. 9, dates it about 1590.
D. Graham Burns. "Letters: 'Una Musica' by Caravaggio." Burlington Magazine 94 (April 1952), p. 119 [text similar to Ref. Burns 1952 (Whitehaven News)].
R. F. C. "New York: Un Caravaggio è entrato nelle collezioni del Metropolitan Museum." Emporium 116 (November 1952), pp. 229, 231, ill., as one of Caravaggio's earliest works.
Roberto Longhi. Il Caravaggio. Milan, 1952, p. 19, fig. 1 and ill. p. 9 (detail), describes it as unrealistic and expressing "insolente allegorismo pagano"; believes that it precedes Caravaggio's association with Del Monte, and that the "musica" described by Baglione [see Ref. 1642], which may have been a pendant to the Cardsharps (now Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth), would have had figures dressed in contemporary costumes.
Fritz Neugass. "Wiedergefundenes Meisterwerk Caravaggios." Weltkunst 22 (August 1, 1952), p. 3, ill.
[Benedict Nicolson]. "Editorial note." Burlington Magazine 94 (April 1952), p. 120, discusses the provenance of the picture, noting its inclusion in the Burns inventory of 1933.
D. Graham Burns. "Letters to the Editor: That £50,000 Picture." Whitehaven News (January 31, 1952), p. ?, discusses the painting's provenance from the time it was acquired by his father, David Burns, during the 1920s.
"Caravaggio's 'Una Musica'." Times (January 29, 1952), p. ?, ill., states that Thwaytes bought it from Cookson for £100 in 1947.
"Old Picture Hung in Metropolitan." New York Times (May 29, 1952), p. 24, ill.
Bernard Berenson. Caravaggio: His Incongruity and His Fame. London, 1953, p. 7, pl. 9, calls it "an 'academy', a studio arrangement of bare backs and of elaborate draperies".
Denis Mahon. "On Some Aspects of Caravaggio and His Times." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12 (October 1953), pp. 33, 35, 38, 43–44, ill. (overall, details, and x-radiograph of detail), and in color on cover, refutes, in a postscript, Longhi's dating of the painting before Caravaggio's encounter with Cardinal del Monte [see Ref. Longhi 1952 (Il Caravaggio)].
Theodore Rousseau Jr. "Notes on Condition [at end of Ref. Mahon 1953]." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12 (October 1953), p. 45, ill. (detail), states that the painting was relined at least twice, and cut down slightly at the top and bottom, about two inches on the left side, and about one inch on the right.
Denis Mahon. "Contrasts in Art-historical Method: Two Recent Approaches to Caravaggio." Burlington Magazine 95 (June 1953), p. 216 n. 27, reviewing Ref. Longhi 1952 (Il Caravaggio), questions Longhi's argument using the "unrealistic" dress in the MMA painting as a basis for dating it before the artist's connection with Del Monte.
Stella Mary Pearce. "Costume in Caravaggio's Painting." Magazine of Art 47 (April 1953), p. 147, ill.
Roger Hinks. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio: His Life—His Legend—His Works. London, 1953, pp. 44–45, 50, 95–96, 98, no. 6, pls. 5 (detail), 7, identifies it with the "musica" commissioned by Cardinal del Monte and dates it 1593–94, before the Kimbell Cardsharps.
Fritz Baumgart. "Die Caravaggio-Forschung Seit 1943." Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 17 (1954), pp. 196–98, 201 n. 8.
Walter Friedländer. "Review of Hinks 1953." Art Bulletin 36 (June 1954), p. 149.
Hanns Swarzenski. "Caravaggio and Still Life Painting: Notes on a Recent Acquisition." Bulletin of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 52 (June 1954), p. 31.
Jacob Hess. "Modelle e modelli del Caravaggio." Commentari 5 (October–December 1954), p. 273 [reprinted in Kunstgeschichtliche Studien zu Renaissance und Barock, Rome, 1967, vol. 1, p. 276].
"Judgment upon Caravaggio." Times Literary Supplement (January 15, 1954), p. 40, ill. p. 1.
Theodore Rousseau Jr. "A Guide to the Picture Galleries." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12, part 2 (January 1954), p. 4, ill. p. 25.
Fritz Baumgart. Caravaggio: Kunst und Wirklichkeit. Berlin, 1955, pp. 19, 94, no. 5, dates it about 1590–92.
Jan Bialostocki. Caravaggio. Warsaw, 1955, pp. 26–27, 56, figs. 6–7 (overall and detail), dates it 1594–95; compares it with the "Concert Champêtre" (Musée du Louvre, Paris), which he ascribes to Giorgione.
Ágnes Czobor. "Autoritratti del giovane Caravaggio." Acta Historiae Artium 2, fasc. 3–4 (1955), pp. 204, 206, 208–11, 213 nn. 20, 39, 43, 48, figs. 6–7 (details), identifies the two central figures, representing youths of about seventeen, as self-portraits; dates the painting 1590–91, prior to Caravaggio's contact with Del Monte; mentions a copy or possible original from Galleria Valdrighi, Modena, that was on the art market in Berlin in 1901.
Walter Friedlaender. Caravaggio Studies. Princeton, 1955, pp. xxiv, 81–82, 84, 101, 141, 145, 147–48, no. 5, pls. 5, 5A, 5B (overall and details), believes the figures were drawn from the artist's studies and observations of his own facial features and torso as reflected in a mirror, and that the fact that the boys are between sixteen and eighteen years of age indicates a date from the beginning of Caravaggio's career, about 1590; observes that if the wings of the figure on the far left were a part of the original composition, "the scene might be interpreted as an allegory of love and music with a Bacchic reference in the bunch of grapes".
T[atiana]. Znamerovskaia. Michelangelo da Caravaggio. Moscow, 1955, pp. 29–30, 95 n. 16, ill. opp. p. 28, calls it a pendant to the Hermitage Lute Player.
Sunday Times (October 2, 1955), p. 1.
Weltkunst 26 (March 15, 1956), p. 10, ill.
Victor Opalski. "Zur Analyse des Caravaggio." Weltkunst 26 (May 1, 1956), p. 4, ill., describes the picture as in poor condition and, according to many authorities, not by Caravaggio.
Kurt Bauch. "Zur Ikonographie von Caravaggios Frühwerken." Kunstgeschichtliche Studien für Hans Kauffmann. Berlin, 1956, pp. 260–61, observes that from a distance it resembles a depiction of the five senses.
Sergio Samek Ludovici. Vita del Caravaggio dalle testimonianze del suo tempo. Milan, 1956, pp. 96–97 n. 24, p. 121, associates it with the "musica" mentioned by Baglione [see Ref. 1642]; sees the influence of Giorgione.
David Wynne-Morgan. "New York Wants that 'Junk-Shop Old Master'." Daily Express (July 5, 1956), p. 3.
Hugo Wagner. Michelangelo da Caravaggio. Bern, 1958, pp. 21–23, 33, 45–46, 90, 177–78 nn. 62–71, p. 191 n. 246, p. 226, dates it 1590–92; identifies it as the work painted for Cardinal del Monte, calling the two central figures self-portraits; describes the Hermitage Lute Player as presumably a pendant with the same model.
Edoardo Arslan. "Nota caravaggesca." Arte antica e moderna 6 (April–June 1959), pp. 192–93, 195, 198–99, 211 n. 6, p. 213 n. 32, pl. 95b (x-radiograph of detail), discusses the early works of Caravaggio and their relative dating, but admits the difficulty of deciding on a specific date for this picture, placing it about 1590–95.
[André] Berne Joffroy. Le dossier Caravage. [Paris], 1959, pp. 297, 301, 308–9, 328–31, 333, 336–37, 366, 375, no. 32, pl. CXLIX, calls it Caravaggio's first complex composition, preceding the Hermitage Lute Player; publishes Mahon's [see Ref. 1952 (Burl. Mag.)] chronology with 1594–95 date for this painting.
Roberto Longhi. "Un originale del Caravaggio a Rouen e il problema delle copie Caravaggesche." Paragone 11 (January 1960), p. 29, calls it "Concerto allegorico".
Ágnes Czobor. Caravaggio. Budapest, 1960, pp. 21–22, 26, figs. 11–12 (overall and detail).
Patricia Egan. "'Concert' Scenes in Musical Paintings of the Italian Renaissance." Journal of the American Musicological Society 14 (Summer 1961), p. 193, pl. XII, calls it "an interesting late example of Musica".
Janina Michalkowa. "Une Musique Caravagesque." Bulletin du Musée National de Varsovie 2, no. 1 (1961), pp. 18–19, fig. 7, mentions it as one of several early works of Caravaggio that had a decisive influence on seventeenth-century Netherlandish painters working in Rome.
René Jullian. Caravage. Lyons, 1961, pp. 49–50, 59 nn. 70–72, pp. 76, 78 nn. 48, 53, p. 226, pls. III (fig. 2, overall), IX (fig. 3, detail), dates it about 1595 and considers it probably, but not certainly, the picture commissioned by Cardinal del Monte; thinks Longhi's perception of this work as "unrealistic" is exaggerated [see Ref. Longhi 1952 (Il Caravaggio)].
Alfred Moir. "'Boy with a Flute' by Bartolomeo Manfredi." Bulletin of the Art Division, Los Angeles County Museum 13, no. 1 (1961), pp. 7, 15 n. 9, fig. 6, describes it as painted in about 1595 for Cardinal del Monte; believes it was an inspiration for Manfredi's musical genre paintings, such as the Concert (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence) and the Boy with a Flute (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).
Denys Sutton. "The English Taste for Italian Seventeenth-century Painting." Sotheby's Annual Review, 218th Season (October 1961–August 1962), p. xxiv, fig. 1.
Costantino Baroni, ed. All the Paintings of Caravaggio. New York, 1962, pp. 9–10, 19, 27, pl. 9, dates it about 1590, but does not confirm its identification with the work painted for Cardinal del Monte; states without giving source that Caravaggio considered it the finest thing he ever did.
Silvino Borla. "Note e commenti, 1593: Arrivo del Caravaggio a Roma." Emporium 135 (January 1962), p. 16, believes Caravaggio arrived in Rome in 1593 and, following the production of his early single-figure works, produced the MMA painting, the Hermitage Lute Player, the Kimbell Cardsharps, and the Fortune Teller (versions in the Louvre, Paris, and the Musei Capitolini, Rome), on a larger scale than his previous work, stimulated by the protection of Cardinal del Monte.
Ellis Waterhouse. Italian Baroque Painting. London, 1962, pp. 22–23, fig. 17, dates it about 1594–95, calling it Caravaggio's first commission for Del Monte and "an attempt to restate the poetic qualities of Giorgione's 'Concert champêtre' in terms of low life and with the tavern replacing the rural scene".
Silvino Borla. "Note e commenti: Opere milanesi del Caravaggio." Emporium 138 (October 1963), pp. 158–59, 161, ill., on the basis of style and the still adolescent self-portrait (he does not mention a specific figure), believes this picture was produced in Milan in about 1589–90 and that it was acquired by Del Monte in about 1595; also dates the Hermitage Lute Player to Caravaggio's Milanese period.
Lionello Venturi. Il Caravaggio. 2nd ed., rev. and enl. Novara, 1963, pp. 19, 51–52, fig. 4.
Giuseppe De Logu. Caravaggio. New York, , pp. 22, 31–32, 34, 36, 44, 144–45, 161, no. 5, colorpl. IV, questions its identification with the work mentioned by Baglione [see Ref. 1642]; calls this painting and the Hermitage Lute Player mirror portraits of the artist.
Duncan T. Kinkead. "Poesia e simboli nel Caravaggio: Temi religiosi." Palatino 10 (April–June 1966), p. 112, fig. 4, calls it a continuation of the Giorgionesque tradition of the Concert and compares it with Calisto Piazza's painting of a concert (Philadelphia Museum of Art), which Caravaggio may have known during his formative years in Lombardy.
Luigi Salerno. "Poesia e simboli nel Caravaggio: I dipinti." Palatino 10 (April–June 1966), pp. 108, 117 n. 9, fig. 4.
B. R. Vipper. Problema realizma v ital'ianskoi zhivopisi XVII–XVIII vekov. Moscow, 1966, pp. 35–36, ill. p. 38.
Mario Lepore. Caravaggio. Verona, 1966, p. 13, ill. (color).
Raffaello Causa. Caravaggio. Milan, 1966, vol. 1, unpaginated, fig. 2.
Angela Ottino della Chiesa inL'opera completa del Caravaggio. Milan, 1967, pp. 85–86, no. 3, ill., dates it about 1591–92.
Michael Kitson. The Complete Paintings of Caravaggio. New York, 1967, pp. 86–87, no. 12, ill., dates it about 1591–92.
Alfred Moir. The Italian Followers of Caravaggio. Cambridge, Mass., 1967, vol. 1, pp. 1, 3, 86, 221–22; vol. 2, p. 55, no. A4, calls it "Musical (Bacchic Allegory)"; describes Paolini's painting of a concert (now Getty Museum, Los Angeles), as "what Caroselli [Paolini's teacher], with his passion for pretty girls, might well have painted as a companion" to the MMA picture.
Robert Hughes. Caravaggio. [London], 1967, p. 2, fig. 1.
Roberto Longhi. Caravaggio. Leipzig, 1968, pp. 15, 34, erroneously as in Washington; calls it a copy after an original which itself is not the work painted for Del Monte which he does think is probably a "counterpart" to the Kimbell Cardsharps.
Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco. "Le 'Opere de misericordia': Contributo alla poetica del Caravaggio." L'arte 1 (1968), p. 58 n. 32.
Alfred Moir. "Did Caravaggio Draw?" Art Quarterly 32, no. 4 (1969), pp. 369–70 n. 7.
Giuliana Zandri. "Un probabile dipinto murale del Caravaggio per il Cardinale Del Monte." Storia dell'arte 3 (1969), p. 340 n. 10, suggests that Caravaggio may have produced this painting, among others, for Cardinal del Monte prior to his residence in the Palazzo Madama.
Calvin Tomkins. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 315 [rev., enl. ed., 1989].
Christoph Luitpold Frommel. "Caravaggio und Seine Modelle." Castrum Peregrini 96 (1970), pp. 32–34, 36, 38–39, 42, pl. VII, analyzes Caravaggio's naturalism.
Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco and Maurizio Marini. "Rassegna degli studi caravaggeschi 1951–1970." L'arte 11–12 (1970), pp. 117, 121, say that the picture is accepted by all authorities except Longhi [see Ref. 1968]; Marini calls it non-autograph without explanation.
Maurizio Marini. "Due ipotesi caravaggesche: La Susanna per il cavalier Marino e la cortigiana con una rosa." Arte illustrata 3 (October–December 1970), p. 77, refers to it as a probable copy.
Luigi Salerno. "Caravaggio e i caravaggeschi." Storia dell'arte 7/8 (1970), pp. 237, 242.
Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez. Pintura italiana del siglo XVII. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 1970, p. 118, compares it with Caravaggio's Saint John the Baptist in the Toledo cathedral, dating them both about 1594–95.
S. N. Vsevolozhskaia. Kartiny Karavadzho i ego shkoly v Ermitazhe. Leningrad [St. Petersburg], 1970, p. 10.
Andrea Busiri Vici. I Poniatowski e Roma. Florence, 1971, pp. 330–31, 359 n. 34, fig. 151, identifies it with a 'bacchanalian concert' by Caravaggio that figured as no. 126 in the 1839 sale of Prince Stanislas Poniatowski [but see Ref. Haskell 1973]; dates it 1594–95 and suggests that it was purchased by the Prince in Rome.
Maurizio Calvesi. "Caravaggio o la ricerca della salvazione." Storia dell'arte 9/10 (1971), pp. 110–11, 141 [reprinted in "Il Caravaggio," Rome, 1987; revised and included in Maurizio Calvesi, "Le realtà del Caravaggio," Turin, 1990, pp. 26–27, 71 n. 55, fig. 27 (detail)], discusses what he views as the cabalistic, Trinitarian symbolism of this picture as it relates to the St. Petersburg Lute Player; observes that the figure at the far left had not only wings, but a quiver filled with arrows, and was thus originally intended as a Cupid.
Gian Alberto Dell'Acqua Mia Cinotti inIl Caravaggio e le sue grandi opere da San Luigi dei francesi. Milan, 1971, pp. 18, 20, 64, 92–94, 181, no. 153, fig. 6 (color), call it one of the first works painted for Cardinal del Monte and date it 1595–96 at the latest.
Christoph Luitpold Frommel. "Caravaggios Frühwerk und der Kardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte." Storia dell'arte 9/10 (1971), pp. 14–15, 17–18, 23–24, 35, 50–51, pl. 7, dates it 1594–95, calling it the first picture produced for Cardinal del Monte; publishes the 1627 inventory of the Cardinal's collection in which this picture is listed as part of folio 581v [see Ref. Del Monte 1627].
W. Chandler Kirwin. "Addendum to Cardinal Francesco del Monte's Inventory: The Date of the Sale of Various Notable Paintings." Storia dell'arte 9/10 (1971), pp. 53, 55, publishes a record of the sale held in the Giardino di Ripetta between October 1627 and June 1628, at which a number of works from the Del Monte collection were sold, including the MMA painting, sold on May 8, 1628 by Alessandro del Monte.
Justus Müller Hofstede. "Abraham Janssens: Zur Problematik des flämischen Caravaggismus." Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen 13 (1971), p. 222.
Donald Posner. Annibale Carracci: A Study in the Reform of Italian Painting around 1590. New York, 1971, vol. 1, p. 11.
Donald Posner. "Caravaggio's Homo-erotic Early Works." Art Quarterly 34 (Fall 1971), pp. 303–4, 306–8, 313, 320 nn. 6, 16, p. 321 n. 27, pp. 322–23 nn. 39, 41, 45, fig. 3, discussing the figures in the painting, notes that "with their soft mouths open in a show of desire and in their suggestive state of dress and undress, they clearly mean to tempt the spectator"; states that they wear everyday shirts, but in such a way as to suggest "all'antica" costumes; believes that with the heads, Caravaggio was aiming at a formal ideal, dismissing the notion that they are true self-portraits; observes that Paolini's Concert (Getty Museum, Los Angeles), which has a winged figure, depends on the MMA painting, and concludes that the wings on the figure at the upper left of the MMA picture are probably original, and were not painted out before the early seventeenth century; agrees with Friedländer's [see Ref. 1955] interpretation of this painting as an allegory of love and music, and dates it about 1596, after the Fruit Vendor (Galleria Borghese, Rome), and before the Hermitage Lute Player; observes that both the MMA painting and Hermitage Lute Player share the striking detail of a violin and bow at the front edge of the painting facing the viewer, an invitation to join in the making of "beautiful music," and, in context, a sexual solicitation.
Richard E. Spear. Caravaggio and His Followers. Exh. cat., Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, 1971, pp. 3, 31, 69 n. 10, pp. 70–71, 136, 195, no. 15, ill., believes that the horn player is a more likely self-portrait than the lutenist; dates the picture about 1595 and mentions two known copies, one sold at Lepke's, Berlin, in 1901 [see Ref. Czobor 1955] and a second in a private collection, London, in the 1950s; notes that the figure at the upper left in the London picture included wings, quiver, and arrow.
Luigi Spezzaferro. "La cultura del cardinal Del Monte e il primo tempo del Caravaggio." Storia dell'arte 9/10 (1971), pp. 57, 84–85, 87 n. 147, discusses the allegorical relationship of music, nature, and harmony as represented in this picture.
Christoph Luitpold Frommel. "Caravaggio und seine Modelle." Castrum peregrini 96 (1971), pp. 32–34, 37–39, 42, pl. VII.
Evelina Borea. "Considerazioni sulla mostra 'Caravaggio e i suoi seguaci' a Cleveland." Bollettino d'arte 57, nos. 3–4 (1972), p. 154, calls it ruined.
Mina Gregori. "Caravaggio dopo la mostra di Cleveland." Paragone 23 (January 1972), pp. 43–44, observes that there is some doubt about the picture's authenticity, probably due to its state of preservation.
Julius S. Held. "Caravaggio and His Followers." Art in America 60 (May–June 1972), p. 42, mentions it as "if indeed original . . . in poor condition".
Benedict Nicolson. "Caravaggesques at Cleveland." Burlington Magazine 114 (February 1972), p. 113, describes it as "much damaged: its sickly appearance is to be put down solely to the battering it has suffered during its peregrinations from Cardinal del Monte's palazzo to Maules [sic] Meaburn".
D. Stephen Pepper. "Caravaggio riveduto e corretto: La mostra di Cleveland." Arte illustrata 5 (March 1972), p. 170.
Mahonri Sharp Young. "Letter from U.S.A.: The Ruin of Painting." Apollo 95 (January 1972), pp. 60–61, fig. 1.
Richard E. Spear. "Unknown Pictures by Caravaggisti (with Notes on 'Caravaggio and His Followers')." Storia dell'arte 14 (1972), p. 157, comments that Volpe's [see Ref. 1972] "insistence that the New York picture is a copy is based on a misrepresentation of the painting's bad condition".
Carlo Volpe. "Annotazioni sulla mostra caravaggesca di Cleveland." Paragone 23 (January 1972), pp. 60–61, remains uncertain of the attribution due to its damaged state; dates it before 1594 and publishes an eighteenth-century copy in a private collection, Florence (pl. 13).
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 44, 501, 608.
Arnauld Brejon de Lavergnée and Jean-Pierre Cuzin. I caravaggeschi francesi. Exh. cat., Villa Medici. Rome, , p. 98 [French ed., "Valentin et les caravagesques français," Grand Palais, Paris, 1974, p. 100].
Mia Cinotti inImmagine del Caravaggio. Exh. cat., Comune di Bergamo. Milan, 1973, pp. 63–64, 181, no. 6, pl. VIII [reprinted in "Il Caravaggio dal corso del Prof. Maurizio Calvesi . . .," ed. Stefania Macioce, Rome, 1987, pp. 25–26, no. 6].
Francis Haskell. "Review of Busiri Vici 1971." Burlington Magazine 115 (August 1973), p. 549, questions Busiri Vici's identification of the MMA painting with no. 126 in the Poniatowski sale of 1839.
Valerio Mariani. Caravaggio. Rome, 1973, pp. 39–40.
Volker Scherliess. "Zu Caravaggios 'Musica'." Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 17, no. 1 (1973), pp. 141–48, fig. 1, finds that the painting's condition makes it too difficult to determine its authenticity; reproduces the same copy as Volpe [see Ref. 1972] as formerly in a private collection, Florence; believes the wings of the figure at upper left, clearly visible in this copy, must have been present in Caravaggio's composition, and suggests that both our picture and the one formerly in Florence may be based on this lost original.
Arturo Bovi. Caravaggio. Florence, 1974, pp. 17, 148–49, ill.
Maurizio Marini. Io Michelangelo da Caravaggio. Rome, 1974, pp. 18, 20–22, 66 n. 133, pp. 331, 333, 337, 340, 342–46, 351, 358, 461, 468, 472, no. 8, ill. pp. 96–97 (overall and details), catalogues it as "Originale?"; comments on the unjustified covering of the wings and quiver, and believes that restoration gives a false impression of what remains of the original surface; calls the horn player probably a self-portrait; considers it unlikely that this and the Hermitage Lute Player were pendants.
Benedict Nicolson. "Caravaggio and His Circle in the British Isles." Burlington Magazine 116 (October 1974), p. 559.
Herwarth Röttgen. Il Caravaggio: Ricerche e interpretazioni. Rome, 1974, pp. 173, 183, 189–91, 198, pl. 92, includes it with works painted for Del Monte between 1595/96 and 1599; comments on the similarity of the features of the boy with the horn to those of Caravaggio in Ottavio Leoni's portrait drawing (Biblioteca Marucelliana, Florence).
Cesare Brandi. "L''episteme' caravaggesca." Caravaggio e i caravaggeschi. Rome, 1974 [published in "Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei" 371, no. 205 (1974), p. 16], identifies one of the figures as a portrait of Caravaggio's friend Mario Minniti.
Eric Zafran inMaster Paintings from The Hermitage and The State Russian Museum, Leningrad. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975, pp. 26, 28, fig. 7, suggests that the Hermitage Lute Player and his counterpart in the MMA picture represent an actual youth in Cardinal del Monte's employ.
Mina Gregori. "Significato delle mostre caravaggesche dal 1951 a oggi." Novità sul Caravaggio. Ed. Mia Cinotti. Milan, 1975, p. 30, pl. 131, a.1 and b.1 (details), calls it a still problematic picture.
S. Vsevolozhskaya and I. Linnik. Caravaggio and His Followers. Leningrad [St. Petersburg], 1975, unpaginated, ill.
Madlyn Millner Kahr. Velázquez: The Art of Painting. New York, 1976, p. 17.
Mina Gregori. "Addendum to Caravaggio: The Cecconi 'Crowning with Thorns' Reconsidered." Burlington Magazine 118 (October 1976), p. 679, connects the archaistic quality of the general design with Venetian sources of the early Cinquecento.
Alfred Moir. Caravaggio and His Copyists. New York, 1976, pp. 84–85, 123 n. 183, no. 7, reproduces two copies, one sold as by Nicolo dell'Abate at Lepke's, Berlin, April 17, 1901 (fig. 17, no. 7a), and the other formerly in a private collection, London (fig 18, no. 7b); notes that no prints or drawings after it are known; identifies it as the picture sold at Christie's, June 20, 1834, no. 94, and suggests it may also have been no. 57 sold at Christie's, June 3, 1815 [see Notes].
Luigia Torti. Naturalismo e polemica sociale nella pittura del Caravaggio: Saggio di estetica. Pavia, 1976, p. 25.
Evelina Borea, ed. Le vite de' pittori, scultori e architetti moderni. By Giovanni Pietro Bellori. Turin, 1976, p. 216 n. 6, observes that most authorities associate the MMA picture with the "musica" Bellori mentions as painted by Caravaggio for Cardinal del Monte [see Ref. Bellori 1672].
Jean-Pierre Cuzin. La diseuse de bonne aventure de Caravage. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 1977, p. 15.
Linda Murray. The Dark Fire. New York, 1977, pp. 10–11, 148–49.
Carmen Scano. Michel Angelo io pittore da Caravaggio (La sua vita. I suoi tempi. Il Seicento.). Milan, 1977, p. 25.
Françoise Bardon. Caravage ou l'expérience de la matière. Paris, 1978, pp. 56–59, 62, 88 n. 74, p. 89 n. 95, p. 219, pl. VIII, calls it one of the first works executed for Cardinal del Monte; discusses it with works painted 1595–99.
Seymour Howard. "Identity Formation and Image Reference in the Narrative Sculpture of Bernini's Early Maturity: 'Hercules and Hydra' and 'Eros Triumphant'." Art Quarterly, n.s., 2, no. 2 (1979), pp. 161, 171 n. 69, fig. 33, relates it to an engraving of Eros triumphant with three Amors after Parmigianino, by an artist near the Master of the Die (fig. 15).
Benedict Nicolson. The International Caravaggesque Movement. Oxford, 1979, pp. 34, 217 [2nd ed., rev. and enl. by Luisa Vertova, "Caravaggism in Europe," Turin, 1989, vol. 1, pp. 82, 241; vol. 2, pl. 9].
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 293, 305, fig. 545.
John Gash. Caravaggio. London, 1980, p. 35, pls. 3, 3a (overall and detail), dates it 1595/96.
Morton Colp Abromson. Painting in Rome during the Papacy of Clement VIII (1592–1605): A Documented Study. PhD diss., Columbia University. New York, 1981, p. 214 n. 107.
Alfred Moir. Caravaggio. New York, 1982, pp. 17, 38, 70, fig. 60 (x-radiograph of detail), colorpl. 4, as sold at Christie's in 1834; dates it 1595–96.
Howard Hibbard. Caravaggio. New York, 1983, p. 23 n. 5, pp. 31–33, 35, 37, 40, 46, 55–56, 87, 258, 264, 273–76, 278–82, 285, 287, 352, 363, no. 15, ill., observes that the violin and sheet music in the foreground probably belong to the musician at the right [but see Ref. Posner 1971]; notes that the model for the lutenist may have been Caravaggio's friend Mario Minniti; states that the picture was originally about the same size as the Kimbell Cardsharps and may have been commissioned as a pendant.
Maurizio Marini. "Al Metropolitan: Rimessi a nuovo i Musici di Caravaggio." Giornale dell'arte no. 2 (June 1983), p. ?, ill. (before and after treatment), comments on the recent restoration of this painting, mentioning that he provided a photograph of a copy in a Sienese private collection which was the basis for an understanding of the original during cleaning.
Franca Trinchieri Camiz and Agostino Ziino. "Caravaggio: Aspetti musicali e committenza." Studi musicali 12, no. 1 (1983), pp. 68–72, state that the musical notation is difficult to read in the original and observe that we cannot assume that what appears in copies would necessarily follow the original painting, as a case exists to the contrary with the Lute Player; comment on the verisimilitude of the instrumentation making up the four voices of the presumed polyphonic composition; state that the performers are shown in the moments which precede a musical entertainment, and that the lute player is tuning his lute.
Gian Alberto Dell'Acqua and Mia Cinotti inI pittori bergamaschi dal XIII al XIX secolo., Il Seicento. Bergamo, 1983, vol. 1, pp. 214, 270, 282, 431, 433, 436, 441, 448–50, 476–79, 486, 500, 509, 519, 554–56, no. 38, ill. p. 582, figs. 3, 4 (overall and x-radiograph detail), observe that although it did not actually originate as a pendant to the Hermitage Lute Player, these pictures must have hung together in the home of Cardinal del Monte.
Pico Cellini. "La Fornarina: Adesso sono sicuro, non è di Raffaello." Giornale dell'arte no. 4 (September 1983), p. 6, in an interview, calls it a copy after Caravaggio, and possibly Tuscan.
Sydney J. Freedberg. Circa 1600: A Revolution of Style in Italian Painting. Cambridge, Mass., 1983, pp. 58, 79, fig. 74.
Richard E. Spear. "Stocktaking in Caravaggio Studies." Burlington Magazine 126 (March 1984), p. 162.
Maurizio Calvesi. "Le realtà del Caravaggio: Seconda parte (I dipinti)." Storia dell'arte no. 55 (September–December 1985), pp. 264, 266 [reprinted in "Il Caravaggio," Rome, 1987; revised and included in Maurizio Calvesi, "Le realtà del Caravaggio," Turin, 1990, pp. 216, 219, 271 n. 198, p. 272 n. 207, fig. 27 (detail)], as almost certainly the pendant of the Hermitage Lute Player.
Mina Gregori inThe Age of Caravaggio. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, pp. 228–35, no. 69, ill. pp. 230 (color), 231 (x-radiograph), 233 (stripped state), 235 (detail) [Italian ed., "Caravaggio e il suo tempo," Naples, 1985], traces the known history of the picture, which she identifies with the painting described by Baglione and owned by Cardinal del Monte; notes that the wings of Cupid were painted out by a later artist; calls it "an allegory translated into ideal terms" and relates the subject to the cultural interests of Del Monte; discusses the foreshortened objects in the picture and their relation to objects in other early works of the artist; dates it about 1595.
Giovanni Previtali. "Caravaggio e il suo tempo." Prospettiva no. 41 (April 1985), p. 79 n. 21, would not be surprised if some day a better version of this painting came to light.
H. Colin Slim. "Musical Inscriptions in Paintings by Caravaggio and His Followers." Music and Context: Essays for John M. Ward. Cambridge, Mass., 1985, pp. 241–42 [repr. in "Painting Music in the Sixteenth Century: Essays in Iconography," Aldershot, 2002, pp. 241–42], observes that "the lack of any clear textual incipit prevents identification" of the music.
Carel van Tuyll. "New York and Naples: Caravaggio." Burlington Magazine 127 (July 1985), p. 487, fig. 70, comments on the recent restoration and notes the presence of a breeze blowing the music, hair, and clothing of the figures, possibly a clue to the picture's meaning.
Karin Wolfe. "Caravaggio: Another 'Lute Player'." Burlington Magazine 127 (July 1985), p. 451.
Keith Christiansen. "Caravaggio and 'L'esempio davanti del naturale'." Art Bulletin 68 (September 1986), pp. 423–24, figs. 2, 3 (x-radiograph), imagines that Caravaggio used the same model for the cupid and the singer, "posing each figure according to a loosely predetermined scheme"; does not mention this picture among those with incised lines in their surface, a technique which he feels the artist did not begin to use until about the time of the Bacchus (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence).
Maurizio Marini. Caravaggio: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio 'pictor praestantissimus'. Rome, 1987, pp. 21, 25, 30–33, 35, 88 n. 64, p. 90 nn. 135, 146, p. 91 n. 154, pp. 128–29, 359, 363–64, 367, 370–71, 374–81, 383, 389–90, 393, 399–400, no. 12, ill. (color and x-radiograph), dates it 1594; calls the horn player a self-portrait; refers to a version of the Lute Player in a private collection, Rome [actually a copy by Carlo Magnone], as the probable pendant to the MMA painting.
Lizzie Boubli. Letter to Keith Christiansen. March 15, 1988, states that the inscription (formerly in the lower left corner) was similar to that in another painting that belonged to Créquy: Veronese's "Supper at Emmaus" (Musée du Louvre, Paris).
Denis Mahon. "Fresh Light on Caravaggio's Earliest Period: His 'Cardsharps' Recovered." Burlington Magazine 130 (January 1988), p. 24 n. 95.
Jean-Claude Boyer and Isabelle Volf. "Rome à Paris: Les tableaux du maréchal de Créquy (1638)." Revue de l'art no. 79 (1988), pp. 23, 31, 39 n. 98, fig. 16, identify this painting with "une musique du Caravage peincte sur bois . . . " that appeared as no. CXIX in the inventory of the collection of Charles de Créquy in May 1638 [see Ref. Charles I 1638]; note that Simon Vouet, who knew Del Monte and possibly his collection in Rome, inventoried the painting in 1643 when it was in the collection of Cardinal de Richelieu; add that the picture was also inventoried in the collection of the duchesse d'Aiguillon in 1675 as no. 48, "Un aut tableau peint sur toille cole sur bois ft par Miquelange Caravage representant une simphonie . . . "; observe that the description of the picture as "sur bois" and "sur toille cole sur bois" in the Richelieu and Aiguillon inventories confirms Denis Mahon's hypothesis that it was transferred to a new surface early in its history; state that although we know that Créquy received gifts in Rome, it is not clear that he acquired the painting in that way.
Jan Bialostocki. "Der schwarze und der farbige Raum: Caravaggio und die Niederländer." Hendrick ter Brugghen und die Nachfolger Caravaggios in Holland. Ed. Rüdiger Klessmann. Braunschweig, 1988, p. 11.
Stephen Koch. "Caravaggio and the Unseen." Writers on Artists. Ed. Daniel Halpern. San Francisco, 1988, p. 73, ill. p. 70 (color).
Erich Schleier inLa pittura in Italia: il Seicento. Ed. Mina Gregori and Erich Schleier. revised and expanded ed. Milan, 1989, vol. 1, pp. 409–10.
Franca Trinchieri Camiz. "La 'Musica' nei quadri del Caravaggio." Quaderni di Palazzo Venezia 6 (1989), pp. 198, 200, 203, fig. 87, notes that similar classicizing garments are worn by male performers in the engraving "Allegoria della Musica" by Cornelis Cort (1533–1578, active in Rome), and suggests that this may have been a model for Caravaggio; observes in a painting of "Musica" by Marten de Vos (1532–1605; Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels) a juxtaposition of the realistic and mythological similar to that in the MMA picture.
Mia Cinotti. "Vita del Caravaggio: Novità 1983–1988." Quaderni di Palazzo Venezia 6 (1989), pp. 80–81.
Claudio Strinati. "Caravaggio nel 1601." Quaderni di Palazzo Venezia 6 (1989), p. 168.
Silvana Milesi. Caravaggio. Bergamo, 1989, pp. 23–24, 52, 54, 58–60, ill. (color), dates it 1596.
Gianni Papi inLa pittura in Italia: il Seicento. Ed. Mina Gregori and Erich Schleier. revised and expanded ed. Milan, 1989, vol. 2, p. 667.
Denis Mahon. "The Singing 'Lute-Player' by Caravaggio from the Barberini Collection, Painted for Cardinal Del Monte." Burlington Magazine 132 (January 1990), p. 12 n. 61, p. 19, believes that it was acquired by Cardinal Antonio Barberini after the sale of 1628 and given by him to the duc de Créquy in 1634.
Avigdor W. G. Posèq. "Bacchic Themes in Caravaggio's Juvenile Works." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 115 (March 1990), pp. 113, 116, 118–19 nn. 8–11, fig. 3, as "dated 1594"; identifies the figures as amateur actors.
Keith Christiansen. A Caravaggio Rediscovered: The Lute Player. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1990, pp. 11, 23–28, 32, 41–42, 44–45, 51 n. 38, pp. 57–60, 68, 72, no. 3, figs. 8, 9 (in color, overall and detail), ill. p. 57 (black and white), calls it "an allegory of Music and Love . . . conceived in a naturalistic background"; considers it likely that the cornetto player is a self-portrait and suggests that the lutenist is also a specific individual in Del Monte's household; states that, according to a 1634 report, Cardinal Antonio Barberini gave the painting to Créquy, and that he had bought it from the "Vigna Ludovisi" (Del Monte's casino near the Porta Pinciana, which he sold to Cardinal Ludovisi in 1621).
Maurizio Calvesi. Le realtà del Caravaggio. Turin, 1990, pp. 26–27, 216, 219, 271 n. 198, p. 272 n. 207, p. 421, fig. 27 (detail), reprints Refs. Calvesi 1971 and 1985.
Elizabeth Cropper. "The Petrifying Art: Marino's Poetry and Caravaggio." Metropolitan Museum Journal 26 (1991), p. 194, fig. 1.
Franca Trinchieri Camiz. "Music and Painting in Cardinal del Monte's Household." Metropolitan Museum Journal 26 (1991), pp. 213, 218, 220–22, fig. 3.
Mia Cinotti. Caravaggio: La vita e l'opera. Bergamo, 1991, pp. 31, 36, 198, fig. 9, dates it about 1595–96.
Gianni Papi et al. inMichelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio: Come nascono i capolavori. Exh. cat., Palazzo Pitti, Florence. Milan, 1991, pp. 24, 64, 78, 96, 110–14, 128, 139, no. 3, ill. pp. 110, 111 (stripped state), 112 (x-radiograph), 113 (color), 115, 117, 121, 123 (color details), 116, 118–20 (details, before restoration).
Roberta Lapucci inMichelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio: Come nascono i capolavori. Exh. cat., Palazzo Pitti, Florence. Milan, 1991, pp. 35, 43, 87, 92, 114, 117–19, 122, ill. pp. 110, 111 (stripped state), 112 (x-radiograph), 113 (color), 115, 117, 121, 123 (color details), 116, 118–20 (details, before restoration), provides a detailed technical discussion of the picture; observes that the artist has prepared the canvas with brown paint rather than the grey characteristic of his earliest canvases; believes Caravaggio learned the technique of incising lines in the paint surface from the workshop of Cavalier d'Arpino and includes this picture among earlier works where such incisions occur [but see Ref. Christiansen 1986].
Deborah Krohn et al. inFrom El Greco to Cézanne: Masterpieces of European Painting from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., National Gallery Alexandros Soutzos Museum. Athens, 1992, pp. 16, 36–37, 306, no. 6, ill. in color (overall and detail, and detail on cover) [catalogue section unpaginated].
Herwarth Röttgen. Caravaggio: Der irdische Amor. Frankfurt, 1992, p. 62, fig. 34.
Ferdinando Bologna. L'incredulità del Caravaggio e l'esperienza delle "cose naturali". Turin, 1992, pp. 300–301, 305, 464 n. 55, no. 8, does not believe it was the painting made for Cardinal del Monte, calling it a copy after an early work by Caravaggio.
Mina Gregori. Caravaggio. Milan, 1994, pp. 11–12, 145, no. 7, ill. pp. 38 (color), 39 (color detail), 145, dates it about 1595 on p. 38 and 1594–95 on p. 145.
Antoine Schnapper. Collections et collectionneurs dans la France du XVIIe siècle. Vol. 2, Oeuvres d'art, curieux du grand siècle. Paris, 1994, pp. 141, 145, pl. 39 [2nd rev. ed., "Curieux du grand siècle," Paris, 2005].
John Gash inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 5, New York, 1996, pp. 706, 717, dates it about 1595–97; notes the Venetian influence evident in the brushwork of the draperies.
Michele Maccherini. "Caravaggio nel carteggio familiare di Giulio Mancini." Prospettiva no. 86 (April 1997), pp. 79–80, 84, fig. 7, publishes Mancini 1615.
Joseph Grigely. Recovering Lost Fictions: Caravaggio's "Musicians". Exh. brochure, MIT List Visual Arts Center. Cambridge, Mass., 1997, pp. 1–8, 11–12 n. 2, ill. (color).
Dennis P. Weller. Sinners & Saints, Darkness and Light: Caravaggio and His Dutch and Flemish Followers. Exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art. Raleigh, 1998, p. 206, no. 3, ill.
Francesca Cappelletti inDa Caravaggio a Ceruti: La scena di genere e l'immagine dei 'pitocchi' nella pittura italiana. Ed. Francesco Porzio. Exh. cat., Museo di Santa Giulia, Brescia. Milan, 1998, p. 298.
Helen Langdon. Caravaggio: A Life. New York, 1998, pp. 109–11, 113, colorpl. 4, calls it Caravaggio's first painting for Del Monte and dates it about 1595.
Catherine Puglisi. Caravaggio. London, 1998, pp. 87, 91–92, 95, 425 n. 12, no. 9, colorpls. 41, 42 (detail), calls it Caravaggio's first painting for Del Monte and dates it about 1595; calls the horn player a self-portrait.
Leonard J. Slatkes. "Utrecht and Delft: Vermeer and Caravaggism." Vermeer Studies. Ed. Ivan Gaskell and Michiel Jonker. Washington, 1998, pp. 87–88.
Peter Robb. M: The Man Who Became Caravaggio. New York, 1998, pp. 57–58, 77–78, 89, 106, 109, 416, 464, 501.
Larry Keith. "Three Paintings by Caravaggio." National Gallery Technical Bulletin 19 (1998), pp. 37, 41.
Timothy Wilson-Smith. Caravaggio. London, 1998, pp. 13–14, 42, colorpl. 6.
Stefania Macioce inCaravaggio. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. [Madrid], 1999, pp. 5, 24, 84–89, ill. in color (overall and details).
Sergio Benedetti inSaints and Sinners: Caravaggio and the Baroque Image. Ed. Franco Mormando. Exh. cat., McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College. Chestnut Hill, Mass., 1999, p. 209.
Mina Gregori inLa luce del vero: Caravaggio, La Tour, Rembrandt, Zurbarán. Exh. cat., Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo. Cinisello Balsamo (Milan), 2000, p. 27.
Stefania Macioce et al. inCaravaggio: La luce nella pittura lombarda. Exh. cat., Accademia Carrara, Bergamo. Milan, 2000, pp. 31, 57, 198–201, no. 23, ill. p. 136 (color).
Rossella Vodret and Claudio Strinati et al. inThe Genius of Rome, 1592–1623. Ed. Beverly Louise Brown. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 2001, pp. 23, 25–26, 92–94, 96, 98, 106–7, 111, 113 n. 22, p. 114 n. 41, pp. 324, 375, no. 28, ill. in color, and color details on front and back covers [Italian ed., "Il genio di Roma, 1592–1623," Palazzo Venezia, Rome, 2001], date it about 1595.
Brian Sewell. "The Caravaggio Phenomenon." Art Newspaper (January 2001), p. 12, ill.
John T. Spike with the assistance of Michèle K. Spike. Caravaggio. New York, 2001, pp. 54–55, 253, no. 6, ill. pp. 52–53 (color).
Maurizio Marini. Caravaggio "pictor praestantissimus": l'iter artistico completo di uno dei massimi rivoluzionari dell'arte di tutti i tempi. 3rd, rev. ed. Rome, 2001, pp. 22, 28, 33–36, 38, 111 nn. 152, 160, p. 112 n. 170, pp. 162–63, 370–71, 374–75, 378, 380–85, 387, 389–91, 394–400, 413–15, 422–23, no. 17, ill. (color and x-radiograph).
Andrea Bayer inPainters of Reality: The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy. Ed. Andrea Bayer. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2004, p. 114 [Italian ed., "Pittori della realtà: le ragioni di una rivoluzione da Foppa e Leonardo a Caravaggio e Ceruti," (Milan), 2004, p. 144].
Keith Christiansen inPainters of Reality: The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy. Ed. Andrea Bayer. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2004, p. 174 [Italian ed., "Pittori della realtà: le ragioni di una rivoluzione da Foppa e Leonardo a Caravaggio e Ceruti," (Milan), 2004, p. 249].
Gennaro Toscano. "Giovanni Bellini et la France (XVIe–XXe siècles): les aléas d'une reconnaissance." Da Bellini a Veronese: temi di arte veneta. Ed. Gennaro Toscano and Francesco Valcanover. Venice, 2004, p. 200 n. 9.
Sergio Guarino and Michele Maccherini inSiena & Roma: Raffaello, Caravaggio e i protagonisti di un legame antico. Exh. cat., Santa Maria della Scala. Siena, 2005, pp. 406–7, 410, no. 6.3, ill. (color).
Francine Prose. Caravaggio: Painter of Miracles. New York, 2005, pp. 39–41, 50–51.
Keith Christiansen. "Going for Baroque: Bringing 17th-Century Masters to the Met." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 62 (Winter 2005), pp. 9, 17, 19, 26, fig. 12 (color).
Pierre Rosenberg. Only in America: One Hundred Paintings in American Museums Unmatched in European Collections. Milan, 2006, p. 76.
Catherine Puglisi. "Caravaggio's Life and 'Lives' over Four Centuries." Caravaggio: Realism, Rebellion, Reception. Ed. Genevieve Warwick. Newark, Del., 2006, pp. 24, 27.
Genevieve Warwick. "Allegories of Eros: Caravaggio's Masque." Caravaggio: Realism, Rebellion, Reception. Ed. Genevieve Warwick. Newark, Del., 2006, p. 88.
Loredana Lorizzo. La collezione del cardinale Ascanio Filomarino: pittura, scultura e mercato dell'arte tra Roma e Napoli nel Seicento, con una nota sulla vendita dei beni del cardinal Del Monte. Naples, 2006, pp. 57–58, 107, identifies the purchaser of the picture at the 1628 sale as monsignor Prospero Fagnani, who seems to have acted on behalf of Cardinal Antonio Barberini.
Tiziana Scarpa inOmaggio a Capodimonte. Exh. cat., Museo di Capodimonte. Naples, 2007, pp. 38–41, no. 11, ill. (color, overall and detail), calls it a copy.
Leonard J. Slatkes and Wayne Franits. The Paintings of Hendrick ter Brugghen, 1588–1619: Catalogue Raisonné. Amsterdam, 2007, pp. 50, 199–200, fig. 61, believe it likely that Ter Brugghen had this picture in mind when he painted the "Musical Group" of about 1627 (National Gallery, London), noting that both works "utilize the same three means of music making: voice, strings and woodwind".
Clovis Whitfield. "The 'camerino' of Cardinal Del Monte." Paragone 59 (January 2008), p. 31, notes that "the model for the 'Lute player' is the same as the singer who posed twice for the Metropolitan 'Musicians'".
Gianni Papi inCaravaggio ospita Caravaggio. Ed. Valentina Maderna and Amalia Pacia. Exh. cat., Pinacoteca di Brera. Milan, 2009, pp. 22–23, 26, 46, 50, ill. pp. 20, 51, 53 (color, overall and details).
Keith Christiansen inPhilippe de Montebello and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1977–2008. New York, 2009, pp. 36–37.
Sebastian Schütze. Caravaggio: The Complete Works. Cologne, 2009, pp. 37, 69–70, 240, 245–47, 252, no. 4, ill. pp. 48–49, 54–55, 245 (color, overall and detail).
Keith Christiansen. "Low Life, High Art." New Republic (December 30, 2010), p. 22.
Barbara Savina et al. inCaravaggio. Ed. Claudio Strinati. Exh. cat., Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome. Milan, 2010, pp. 29, 39, 60–67, ill. (color, overall and details).
Stefania Macioce inCaravaggio. Ed. Claudio Strinati. Exh. cat., Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome. Milan, 2010, p. 236.
Svetlana Vsevolozskaja. Museo Statale Ermitage: la pittura italiana del Seicento. Milan, 2010, p. 204, under no. 20.
Rossella Vodret. Caravage: L'oeuvre complet. Cinisello Balsamo, Milan, 2010, pp. 18, 64–65, 72, no. 11, ill. (color).
John T. Spike. "Caravaggio and the 'Mottetti del frutto' of Antonio Gardano." Caravaggio: Still Life with Fruit on a Stone Ledge. Ed. Aaron H. De Groft. [Williamsburg, Va.], 2010, pp. 93–94, fig. 45 and ill. p. 93 (color, overall and detail).
Chiara Barbato. Caravaggio tra cronaca e critica. Città di Castello, 2010, p. 35.
Stefania Macioce. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio: documenti, fonti e inventari 1513–1875. 2nd ed. Rome, 2010, pp. 274–75, 289, cites several letters of 1615 from Giulio Mancini to his brother Deifebo mentioning his copy after this painting.
Michael Fried. The Moment of Caravaggio. Princeton, 2010, pp. 55–56, 124–26, 128, 130, 141–43, 258, figs. 2.12, 4.14 (color).
Stefano Zuffi. Caravaggio: simboli e segreti. [Milan], 2010, pp. 40–41, 73, ill. (color, overall and details).
David Franklin et al. inCaravaggio & His Followers in Rome. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. New Haven, 2011, pp. 128–33, 136, 139, 141, 143, 314, no. 1, ill. (color), mistakenly says that the picture was signed by the artist.
Andrew Graham-Dixon. Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane. New York, 2011, pp. 124–27, 131–32, 144, pl. 21, believes that the same model posed for the Cupid in this picture and the angel in "Saint Francis in Ecstasy" of about 1595–96 (Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford).
Michel Hilaire inCorps et ombres: Caravage et le caravagisme européen. Ed. Michel Hilaire and Axel Hémery. Exh. cat., Musée Fabre, Montpellier and Musée des Augustins, Toulouse. Milan, 2012, p. 48, fig. 2 (color).
Amy Walsh inCaravaggio and His Legacy. Exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles, 2012, p. 145.
Stefania Macioce. "Caravaggio e il 'melodioso liuto'." La musica al tempo di Caravaggio. Ed. Stefania Macioce and Enrico De Pascale. Rome, 2012, pp. 22, 24, 27 nn. 24–25, colorpl. 3.
Sybille Ebert-Schifferer. Caravaggio: The Artist and His Work. Los Angeles, 2012, pp. 94–96, 287, fig. 53 (color, pp. pp. 92–93, 287) [German ed., "Caravaggio: Sehen—Staunen—Glauben," Munich, 2009, pp. 94–95, 98, 287, fig. 53 (color, pp. 92–93, 287)].
Daniele Radini Tedeschi. Caravaggio o della Vulgata. Rome, 2012, pp. 36, 62, 132.
Félix Witting and M. L. Patrizi. Caravaggio. New York, 2012, pp. 27, 30, 33, 78, 95, 99, 102, 129–30, ill. p. 20 (color).
Stefano Zuffi. Caravaggio. Munich, 2012, pp. 42–43, ill. (color).
Barbara Savina. Caravaggio tra originali e copie: collezionismo e mercato dell'arte a Roma nel primo Seicento. Foligno, 2013, pp. 41, 120–23, 164–65, 193, 201, 222–24, no. VI, n.1, ill. p. 120, and pp. 176–77 (color, overall and details).
Rosa Maria Subirana Rebull inCaravaggio, 400 anys després. Ed. Rosa Maria Subirana Rebull et al. Barcelona, , pp. 59–60, ill. (color).
Franco Paliaga inIl giuoco al tempo di Caravaggio: dipinti, giochi, testimonianze dalla fine del '500 ai primi del '700. Ed. Pierluigi Carofano. Exh. cat., Villa Castello Smilea, Montale. n.p., , pp. 63–64, 67 n. 23.
[Mariano Paganelli]. Il Caravaggio negato: "Una musica di alcuni giovani" plagio e scomparsa di un originale celebre. Arezzo, 2013, pp. 7–131 passim, ill. (color, overall and details).
David M. Stone. "Caravaggio Betrayals: The Lost Painter and the 'Great Swindle'." Caravaggio: Reflections and Refractions. Ed. Lorenzo Pericolo and David M. Stone. Farnham, England, 2014, p. 26.
Larry Keith. "Caravaggio's Painting Technique: A Brief Survey Based on Paintings in the National Gallery, London." Caravaggio: Reflections and Refractions. Ed. Lorenzo Pericolo and David M. Stone. Farnham, England, 2014, p. 34.
Catherine Puglisi. "Talking Pictures: Sound in Caravaggio's Art." Caravaggio: Reflections and Refractions. Ed. Lorenzo Pericolo and David M. Stone. Farnham, England, 2014, p. 106.
Richard E. Spear. "The Bottom Line of Painting Caravaggesque." Caravaggio: Reflections and Refractions. Ed. Lorenzo Pericolo and David M. Stone. Farnham, England, 2014, p. 200.
Alessandra Rodolfo. "'Là c'è anche un Michelangelo da Caravaggio che fa a Roma cose meravigliose'." Michelangelo da Caravaggio che fa a Roma cose meravigliose. Ed. Alessandra Rodolfo. Vatican City, 2014, pp. 31, 33, fig. 12 (color).
Todd P. Olson. Caravaggio's Pitiful Relics. New Haven, 2014, pp. 29, 34, fig. 22 (color).
John Marciari. Italian, Spanish, and French Paintings Before 1850 in the San Diego Museum of Art. San Diego, 2015, p. 190.
Stéphane Loire. "Les collections de peinture baroque aux États-Unis: un point de vue européen / Collections of Baroque Paintings in the USA: A European Perspective." Aux origines d'un goût: la peinture baroque aux États-Unis / Creating the Taste for Baroque Painting in America. Paris, 2015, pp. 26, 32.
Keith Christiansen. "La création tardive d'une collection de peintures baroques au Metropolitan Museum of Art / Creating a Baroque Collection at the Metropolitan Late in the Game." Aux origines d'un goût: la peinture baroque aux États-Unis / Creating the Taste for Baroque Painting in America. Paris, 2015, pp. 64–65, 67, 70–72, fig. 4 (color) and front and back covers (color detail).
Gianni Papi. Bartolomeo Cavarozzi. Soncino, 2015, p. 21, fig. 27.
Clare Robertson. Rome 1600: The City and the Visual Arts under Clement VIII. New Haven, 2015, pp. 159, 295, 372 n. 204, fig. 144 (color).
Sebastian Schütze. Caravaggio: The Complete Works. Cologne, 2015, pp. 37, 69–70, 245–46, no. 4, ill. pp. 54–55, 245 (color).
Michael Fried. After Caravaggio. New Haven, 2016, pp. 10–11, 17, 82, 98, 122, fig. 12 (color), discusses it as an example of the juxtaposition of the themes of absorption and address in Caravaggio's paintings.
Gert Jan van der Sman inCaravaggio and the Painters of the North. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. [Madrid], 2016, pp. 16, 64, 74, 78, no. 4, ill. p. 75 and on cover (color, overall and detail).
Dolores Delgado inCaravaggio and the Painters of the North. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. [Madrid], 2016, p. 203.
C. D. Dickerson III and Esther Bell inThe Brothers Le Nain: Painters of Seventeenth-Century France. Exh. cat., Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth. San Francisco, 2016, p. 358, under no. 65, mention it as a possible influence on Antoine Le Nain's "Three Young Musicians" (ca. 1640–45; Los Angeles County Museum of Art).
Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, pp. 280, 283, no. 199, ill. pp. 198–99, 280 (color, overall and detail).
Seven sales held at Christie's, London, between 1803 and 1912 included pictures attributed to Caravaggio that may possibly be this work: 1) Francis Godolphin, 2nd Earl of Godolphin (June 7, 1803, no. 43, as "A Musical Conversation, a fine bold Effect, with rich glow of Colouring," 3-1/2 x 3 ft, for £17.6 to Kennett) 2) Hele (March 16, 1805, no. 78, as "The Musical Conversation, truly capital," for £10.10 to Anderdon) 3) Daniel Wade Acraman (June 3, 1815, no. 57, as "Love and Harmony, a beautiful Group of four Figures, painted with great sweetness and delicacy," did not make £80 reserve, bought in at 50 gns.) 4) Henry Fulton (June 20, 1834, no. 94, as "A concert of three figures, with Cupid pressing grapes in the back-ground; a capital picture in Guido's manner," for £24.3 to Norton) 5) Prince Stanislas Poniatowski, Rome and Florence (February 9, 1839, no. 126, as "A bacchanalian concert; a grand composition," for £25.4 to Norton) 6) Property of a Lady of Title (March 30, 1908, no. 140, as "A Musician Singing, and other figures," 46 x 35 in., for £3.13.6 to Clark) 7) Property of a Gentleman (April 19, 1912, no. 131, as "A Concert," 36 1/2 x 50 1/2 in., for £15.15 to Wagner)
There are three known copies of this painting. One was sold at Lepke's, Berlin, April 17, 1901, lot 74, as by Nicolo dell'Abate, and came from the Valdrighi Gallery, Modena (Moir 1976, fig. 17). A second copy was in a private collection, London, in 1955, when it was exhibited at the Chelsea Antique Fair (Moir 1976, fig. 18). Volpe (1972) and Scherliess (1973) illustrate this same copy as formerly in a private collection, Florence. A photograph of a third copy (private collection, Siena) was referred to during the restoration of the MMA painting in 1983 (Marini 1983).
The inscription formerly visible at lower left, [MI]CHELANG[ELO].DA CARAVA / [G]GIO, was a later addition, possibly from the end of the seventeenth century or beginning of the eighteenth century.