Saturday, May 14, 2016

1581 May Garden Party with Music & Boat Rides


Musica dulce laborum (1581): decorated inside lid of double virginals by Hans Ruckers the Elder (1540s–1598). New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Inv. 1929 (29.90). 

The inside lid reveals a pleasure garden scene, the artist is unknown. The theme of the outdoor garden party, the buitenpartij or fête champêtre, of which this is an early example, became a popular genre in the 17C Netherlands, reviving the age-old artistic tradition of the Garden of Love. The elegantly dressed members of the upper class are amusing themselves in the meadows & gardens of the adjoining, moated castle. Their activities range from dining and playing musical instruments in the central pergola, to gentle promenades, embarking on a boat ride, or playing the game of kolf, forerunner of today’s golf. The text painted on the drop-board of this virginal, MUSICA DULCE LABORUM (“sweet music eases work”), not only refers to the playing of this keyboard instrument, but also to the musicians in the painted garden of leisure.

Musica dulce laborum (1581): decorated inside lid of double virginals by Hans Ruckers the Elder (1540s–1598). New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Inv. 1929 (29.90). 


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