Pieter Codde (Amsterdam 1599-1678)
Pieter Codde (Amsterdam 1599-1678)

An elegant company making music

Pieter Codde (Amsterdam 1599-1678)
An elegant company making music
signed with monogram ‘PC’ (lower left, on the musical score)
oil on panel
12 3/8 x 16 1/8 in. (31.4 x 41 cm.)
Pieter Smidt van Gelder (1878-1956), Amsterdam; his sale, Moos, Geneva, 7 April 1933, lot 6.
Anonymous sale; Christie’s, London, 11 December 1984, lot 105.
with Johnny van Haeften, London, 1985.
with Robert Noortman, Maastricht and London.
Private collection; Christie’s, London, 7 July 1995, lot 54, where acquired by the present owner.

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Lot Essay

Genre paintings like the present picture feature repeatedly in Codde’s work of the late 1620s and 1630s, after which time the artist increasingly turned his attention to portraits and, to a lesser extent, historical subjects. The clear, bright tonality of this undated work would seem to suggest that it was painted early in Codde’s career, prior to his development of an increasingly muted color scheme of greys and black. The painting’s tonal use of color and compressed grouping of figures anticipates by a few years similar compositions by the likes of Dirck Hals (1591-1656) and Anthonie Palamedesz. (1601-1673). A weaker version of the present painting, with a basket under the chimney, was recently on the Amsterdam art market, and a copy attributed to Palamedesz. was with W. Wheeler and Son, London, in 1950.

Merry company scenes of music-making groups emerged from allegorical representations of Hearing in series of the Five Senses but had become independent subjects by Codde’s time. 17th-century viewers would have read such images symbolically, as music-making elicited ideas ranging from illicit love to marital harmony depending on context.

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