Soldier Playing the Theorbo

Ernest Meissonier (French, Lyons 1815–1891 Paris)

Oil on wood
11 1/2 x 8 5/8 in. (29.2 x 21.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Martha T. Fiske Collord, in memory of her first husband, Josiah M. Fiske, 1908
Accession Number:
  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): EMeissonier [initials in monogram] 1865

  • Provenance

    Lieutenant General baron Auguste Goethals, Brussels; Federico H. Mylius, Genoa (until 1879; his sale, Genoa, November 13, 1879, no. 91, as "Soldat," to Spencer); Albert Spencer, New York (1879–88; his sale, Chickering Hall, New York, February 28, 1888, no. 52, as "A Musician," for $8,800 to Knoedler); [Knoedler & Co., New York, 1888]; Josiah M. Fiske, New York (possibly by 1888–d. 1892); Martha T. Fiske Collord, New York (1892–d. 1908)

  • Exhibition History

    Winnipeg Art Gallery. "French Pre-Impressionist Painters of the Nineteenth Century," April 10–May 9, 1954, no. 68 (as "A Lute Player").

  • References

    The Complete Works of E. Meissonier with Biography. New York, [1884], vol. 1, pl. XL, as "Jacob Leusen".

    Marius Chaumelin. Portraits d'artistes: E. Meissonier, J. Breton. Paris, 1887, p. 50, no. 124, as "Le Joueur de guitare".

    "The Fine Arts: Art Notes." Critic (March 10, 1888), p. 119.

    Montezuma [Montague Marks]. "My Note Book." Art Amateur 18 (April 1888), p. 105.

    "A Big Sum for Paintings." New York Times (February 29, 1888), p. 2, notes that Knoedler bought this picture for $8,800 at the Spencer sale.

    "'Meissoniers' Owned by Americans." Art Amateur 24 (March 1891), p. 6, states that Josiah M. Fiske purchased it at the Spencer sale.

    Vallery C. O. Gréard. Meissonier: His Life and his Art. New York, 1897, p. 371, as "A Soldier of the Time of Louis XIII".

    Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. "XIX Century." French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2, New York, 1966, p. 151, ill., tentatively identify the model as Jacob Leusen, a frequent model of Meissonier's.

    Philippe Guilloux. Meissonier: Trois siècles d'histoire. Paris, 1980, ill. p. 24, as "Soldat jouant de la mandoline".

    Constance Cain Hungerford in Ernest Meissonier: Rétrospective. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyons. Lyons, 1993, p. 126, under no. 49, fig. 16, calls it "Jacob Leusen. Soldat jouant du théorbe"; notes that Leusen, playing the same théorbo with his hands in the identical position, also posed for another painting of the same year, "Une chanson" (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin); remarks that the costume in our painting is worn by Leusen's companion in the Dublin painting.

    Isabelle Collet in Zamacois, Fortuny, Meissonier. Exh. cat., Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao. Bilbao, 2006, p. 232, under no. 75.

  • Notes

    The model for this picture was Jacob Leusen, who also posed as the soldier with a theorbo in "A Song" (1865; National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin) [see Ref. Hungerford 1993]. Chaumelin [Ref. 1887] lists a gravure print by Dujardin.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History