Spread Them Out, Remove Their Wings, and What Do You Get?

We’re talking about musicians here, not a moth dissection project. The first depiction of a group of musicians looks like a somewhat random concert scene or collection of performers. Upon closer examination, it becomes evident that it belongs to a group of images that were popular for nearly a century, beginning around 1590 (click on images to expand).

You can see the original painting under the first, below. For a post showing 16 other versions of the image, see Paper, Canvas, Stone, Silver, Wood, and Glass: St. Cecilia Trombone Image in Many Forms.

In this secular version of the image, painted by a 17th century artist of the Flemish school, the musicians are spread out, wings removed, with secular clothing rather than robes. Notice the similarity of instruments played, sequence of instruments (though the trombone is placed on the far right instead of between the two viols), inclusion of people holding music, and placement of the organist in the middle (St. Cecilia in the original painting). The ribbon flowing from the organist’s hair, present in many other versions of the painting, is also clear here. You can even see the extra stay on the trombone’s slide. It is worthwhile to note that the original artist, Pieter de Witte, was of Flemish descent, and four other images among the copies are by Flemish artists (public domain). Top image courtesy of Tassos Dimitriadis.