This colorful Merry Company was painted in the mid- to late 1630s, to judge from broad qualities of pictorial style, such as the arrangement of space and lighting, and from the more fashionable articles of clothing. At the time, the artist lived in The Hague. His knowledge of Amsterdam painter Pieter Codde's work is obvious in this picture, which was attributed to Codde from 1929; on that occasion, the monogram was read as PC], and perhaps much earlier. Even after the painting's bequest to the Museum in 1970, it was little known, and was rarely exhibited before conservation treatment in 1995–96. In 1986, Sutton suggested the attribution to Quast; in 1989, Müller Hofstede concurred and proposed a date in the later 1630s. Quast's usual PQ monogram, painted in red on the shirt of the singing young man, became legible with cleaning in 1995. The x-radiograph made at that time reveals that the painting underwent many transformations.
Two copies of this work are known from old photographs. One, attributed to Herman Doncker, was in the collection of K. M. von Wolf in about 1900; the other was with D. Katz, Dieren, in about 1933, and introduces a landscape into the left background. The first appears to date from the seventeenth century; the second must have been painted after 1700.
[2013; adapted from Liedtke 2007]