Inventaire de tous les meubles du cardinal Mazarin, 1653. 1653, no. 280 [Bibliothèque du château de Chantilly, MS 1294; published in "Inventaire de tous les meubles du Cardinal Mazarin," London, 1861, p. 326], as "Un soldat assis qui joue du luth sur toille d'empereur, sa bordure dorée. Valentino".
Inventaire dressé après la mort du cardinal Mazarin. 1661, no. 1109 [Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, Département des manuscrits, Mélanges Colbert 75; published in Gabriel-Jules de Cosnac, "Les richesses du Palais Mazarin," 2nd ed., Paris, 1885, p. 319], as "Un autre faict par Vallentin, sur toille, représentant un 'Soldat assis qui joue du luth,' hault de quatre piedz et large de trois piedz deux poulces, garny de sa bordure de bois doré, prisé la somme de cinq cens livres tournois, cy".
Théodore Lejeune. Guide théorique et pratique de l'amateur de tableaux. Vol. 1, Paris, 1864, p. 159, lists it in the collection of the marquis Dodun de Keroman with an estimate of 1,000 francs; lists separately the work included in the Villeminot sale of 1807.
Arnauld Brejon de Lavergnée and Jean-Pierre Cuzin. I caravaggeschi francesi. Exh. cat., Villa Medici. Rome, , pp. 156–57, no. 47, ill. [French ed., "Valentin et les caravagesques français," Grand Palais, Paris, 1974, pp. 162–63, no. 50, ill.], call this the original version, based on quality and on the pentimenti, and mention two old copies: one belonging to the marquis of Exeter, Burghley House, and the other in a private collection, Brescia, in 1946; note that the composition, with an almost full-length single figure, is unusual for Valentin; see a Venetian quality in the work, comparing it with musicians by Giorgione and Cariani and with a similarly Venetian "Laurel-crowned Flutist" by Valentin, noting that Longhi dates the latter work late in the artist's career and adding that the style of the Lute Player does not contradict a late dating [Roberto Longhi, "A propos de Valentin," La Revue des arts 8 (March–April 1958), p. 66, fig. 5]; wonder if this may be the work included in the 1661 inventory of the collection of Cardinal Mazarin; note that there is an oral tradition in the family of the current owner that the work came from the Visconti collection.
Jean-Pierre Cuzin. "Pour Valentin." Revue de l'art no. 28 (1975), p. 60, mentions it as probably a late work.
Benedict Nicolson. The International Caravaggesque Movement. Oxford, 1979, p. 105 [2nd ed., rev. and enl. by Luisa Vertova, "Caravaggism in Europe," Turin, 1989, vol. 1, p. 204; vol. 2, pl. 697], calls it badly preserved.
Christopher Wright. The French Painters of the Seventeenth Century. Boston, 1985, p. 268.
Robert B. Simon. Important Old Master Paintings: Discoveries . . . "in una nuova luce". Exh. cat., Piero Corsini, Inc. New York, 1988, p. 90, fig. 7, under no. 16, as in a private collection, Paris; relates it to Valentin's "Apollo Disguised as a Shepherd" (called "Laurel-crowned Flutist" in Brejon de Lavergnée and Cuzin 1973), believing that the two works date from the same undetermined period and depict the same model.
Marina Mojana. Valentin de Boulogne. Milan, 1989, pp. 29, 124–25, no. 36, ill. (color), dates it about 1626; refers to the figure as a young soldier dressed "alla spagnola"; mentions a work of this subject by Valentin recorded in the collection of Ugo Accoramboni, Rome, in 1694.
Patrick Michel. Mazarin, prince des collectionneurs: les collections et l'ameublement du Cardinal Mazarin (1602–1661), histoire et analyse. Paris, 1999, pp. 387, 409 n. 157, pp. 586–87, identifies it as the work recorded in the Mazarin collection; lists it as still located in the Grande Salle d'Entrée of the Palais Mazarin in 1714 [an inventory of the Palais Mazarin was conducted between 1699 and 1714; see "Sources," p. 638].
Keith Christiansen in Philippe de Montebello and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1977–2008. New York, 2009, p. 34, fig. 46 (color).
Keith Christiansen in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2008–2010." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 68 (Fall 2010), p. 30, ill. (color) and ill. on cover (color detail).
Jean-Pierre Cuzin. Figures de la réalité: Caravagesques français, Georges de La Tour, les frères Le Nain . . . [Paris], 2010, pp. 101, 167.
Michael Fried in David Franklin and Sebastian Schütze. Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. New Haven, 2011, p. 119, fig. 47 (color), mentions it as an example of "an 'excessive' mode of embodied subjectivity".