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Interior with a Woman at the Virginal

Interior with a Woman at the Virginal

Emanuel de Witte (in 1665 - 1670)

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  • Valrie Englund Jensen asked

    I am publishing a non-fiction, academic book detailing how artists use (or appear to use) geometry in the process of designing a work of art.
    My purpose in writing to you is to determine the possibility of obtaining permission for use of this extraordinary image: Interior with a Woman Playing the Clavecin to a Man in Bed, Emanuel de Witte.
    Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

    All the best,

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Valrie,

    From 2021, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is providing free professionally photographed images of works in the collection. To request these, you can read more here: https://www.boijmans.nl/en/image-requests. Good luck with your research and publication!


  • Yuri asked

    I see that there is an explanation of the painting on this page. It says that it has a deeper symbol of love and erotic melancholy. I was wondering where does this analysis coe from? Could you inform me about the sources of such an interpretation?
    Moreover, many Dutch paintings of the 17th century are read differently by art historians. Do you have by any chance any other sources that argue another meaning of this painting?
    Thank you in advance!
    Kind regards, Yuri

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Yuri, I have consulted our curator of old art, Ruben Suykerbuyk and he says that your question does not have an easy (short) answer. There is a lot of discussion about the interpretation of these kind of paintings, varying between rather down to earth, to highly romantic and symbolic. Ruben tends to the former. There has been written about this subject by our former curator Friso Lammertse (now working at the Rijkmuseum): F. Lammertse, Nederlandse genreschilderijen uit de zeventiende eeuw. Eigen collectie Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam 1998, pp. 189-191, nr. 65. Lammertse discusses the various interpretations and argues that the people who bought art in the seventeenth century probably were more interested in composition, perspective and illusionistic space than in storytelling. I hope this is helpful. Kind regards, Els

  • Chris asked

    Do you have old copies of the Agenda diary from the 1980s? Are all Agenda diaries of art in yoyr museum?Heb je oude exemplaren van het Agenda-dagboek uit de jaren 80? Of online versies? Staan alle afbeeldingen in Agenda-dagboeken van kunst in uw museum?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Chris,

    Thank you for your questions!
    All the artworks mentioned in the agenda are from our own collection. All the old copies from old agenda’s are kept in the museum library. Unfortunately old copies are not available online. Due to covid it is not possible to visit the museum and/or the library at this time.

    I hope this answers your questions

    Kind Regards,

  • Marlen Bonke asked

    Hi, is that a different version of "Interior-with-a-Woman-at-the-Virginal" by the same painter, Emauel de Witte: https://arthur.io/art/emanuel-de-witte?crtr=1 ??

    I own a quite similar version of this painting, probably a 19th century copy. Is there anybody at the museum I could consult?

    Thanks in advance.

    Kind regards
    Marlen Bonke

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Marlen, Thank you for your question and how wonderful that you own a (19th century) copy of this painting too. I cannot say if the website you mention uses an image from the Boijmans painting or an image from the same composition in the collection of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, which is slightly larger. It was not unusual at all for artists in the seventeenth century to make several versions of the same composition. Unfortunately we don't have a curator for Old Masters who can look at your painting at the moment. We will be able to provide the service you ask from september 202, when the vacancy is fulfilled and our public depot has opened. In the meantime you could consult a specialized art dealer or auction house. Good luck! Els.

  • sdjhbcjdsn asked

    What other interesting events in history happened when the artwork was painted? It can be anything

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi sdjhbcjdsn ;), I think if you google the year 1665 or 1670 yourself, it will be quite easy for you to find some interesting historical events. Good luck! Rianne

  • Susan Phaneuf asked

    Some research into this de Witte painting mentions that originally it was thought to be a Pieter de Hooch and that this mystery was only solved in 1929. Can you shed light on this?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Susan, In Masters of seventeenth-century Dutch genre painting, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1984 it reads: “The past attribution of this work to Pieter de Hooch was undoubtly due to the masterful treatment of space. De Hooch, who certainly knew de Witte’s work in Amsterdam in the early 1660s, had probably encountered it even earlier in Delft.” … “However, the system in the present work of distributing light in bands – a technique often encountered in de Witte’s church interiors – was foreign to de Hooch” And this painting is falsely signed on the lower right “P. de Hooch”. p. 361. The research directed me to this book: Ilse Manke, Emanuel de Witte (1617-1692), Menno Hertzberger & Co, Amsterdam, 1963 / J.G. van Gelder. Unfortunately we don't have it in the library. If you could find and read it, probably you could be more informed about the attribution of this painting. All the best, Xin

  • nanna wülfing asked

    when will "Interior with a Woman at the Virginal" by Emanuel de WItte be on Display again?
    Where is travelling at the moment?
    many thanks
    Nanna Wülfing,
    Dortmund Germany

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Nanna,

    The painting is now part of an exhibition at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam called KWAB: Dutch Design in de eeuw van Rembrandt (Dutch Design in the age of Rembrandt). This exhibition started on 30th of June and lasts until the 16th of September 2018. However, we do not know when the painting will be on display in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen again. If the painting is on display in the museum you can see this by the orange tab ‘now on display’ on the right side of the object on our collection website.

    Kind regards,

  • francesca bianchi asked

    Hello, I work for school about the "interior with a woman at the virginal" and I am trying to draw the plan of the house. Do you know any informations about it? Thank you!

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Francesca, unfortunately we don't have a plan of the house. In general however, it is assumed that it wasn't an existing space but an imaginary construct by the artist. Good luck with the assignment! Rianne

  • Ivan Bercedo asked

    Isn't another version of this De Witte painting in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts?
    Which are the main differences?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Ivan, It is true that an almost identical version of this painting can be found in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The version in Montreal is alternately regarded as being an old copy or a second version of the artist’s hand. At the time that these paintings were made, Emanuel de Witte used to live in with his patrons in exchange for paintings. It could be that because of a remaining debt at his former patron, De Witte made two versions of this painting so he could give the other one to his recent patron. But we don't know for sure. There's no documents supporting this theory, while this ís the case with some other works by De Witte. It might be nice to know that the Stedelijk Museum of Alkmaar is preparing an exhibition about Emanuel de Witte, in which they are aiming to bring the paintings back together for the first time. This exhibition is planned in the fall of 2017. Best regards, Tanja van Oostrum


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More information

The complicated spatial construction in this 'Interior with woman playing a harpischord and an officer' is achieved by the perspective and the patches of sunlight coming in. It seems as if an amorous situation is being depicted. Playing the instrument is explained as a reference to love. It is also thought that the man in bed, who is listening to the music, is suffering from a disease, namely erotic melancholy, and the music is a medicine against the pain.

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Collection book

Collection book Order


Title Interior with a Woman at the Virginal
Material and technique Oil on canvas
Object type
Painting > Painting > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is travelling
Dimensions Height Error: 77,5 is not a valid BCD value cm
Width Error: 104,5 is not a valid BCD value cm
Artists Painter: Emanuel de Witte
Accession number 2313 (OK)
Credits Loan Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, 1948
Department Old Masters
Acquisition date 1948
Creation date in 1665 - 1670
Internal exhibitions The Collection Enriched (2011)
De collectie als tijdmachine (2017)
External exhibitions Behind the Curtain. Concealment and Revelation since the Renaissance (2016)
The joy of everyday life – in the Netherlands and Denmark (2024)
Meester van het licht (2017)
Kwab (2018)
Research Show research Alma
Geographical origin Amsterdam > North Holland > The Netherlands > Western Europe > Europe

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All about the artist

Emanuel de Witte

Alkmaar 1617 - Amsterdam 1692

Around the 1640s, Emanuel de Witte became a pupil of the Delft-based still life artist Evert van Aelst. In 1652 he moved to Amsterdam. From 1641, De Witte...

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