We are grateful to Professor Fernando Quiles García for confirming the attribution on the basis of photographs. This set of three belongs to a group of trompe-l'oeil still lifes by Lorente Germán, all depicting similar arrangements of papers, works of art and everyday objects on shallow shelves set into wood-panelled walls. Only three of these pictures have ever been published. Two were acquired by the Louvre in 1955, one of which is another version of the picture with Tobacco smokers in the present lot, while the other centres on a canvas with Bacchus drinking wine. The pictures in the Louvre have been described by José Milicua as 'las cosas de Germán más estimables que conozco' ('Bernardo Lorente Germán: el retrato del Infante Don Fernando', in Archivo Español de Arte, CXXXVI, 1961, pp. 312-320), while Claudie Ressort and Almudena Ros de Barbero note that from 1955 on they were 'considérés par la critique comme les meileurs exemples de ce genre pratiqué à Séville au XVIIIe siècle' (Musée du Louvre, Département des peintures, Catalogue: Écoles espagnole et portugaise, Paris, 2002, p. 313). The remaining known example is a third version of the Tobacco smokers, once with Caylus and now in a private collection, Madrid.
Enrique Valdivieso supports the hypothesis that the series of pictures may have been intended as an allegory of the Five Senses, with the Louvre Wine drinker representing Taste and the Tobacco smokers representing Smell (Pintura barroca sevillana, Seville, 2003, p. 154. The present lot lends valuable support to this theory, as the two other compositions, no other versions of which are known, can be read as allegories of Hearing (the picture with the mandolin) and Sight (as symbolised by the evocation of sight-reading in the composition centring on sheet music, as well as by the perspectival recession in the juxtaposed landsapes).