We are grateful to Dr Ursula Härting for suggesting that this work is a rare collaboration between De Baellieur and Frans Francken III.
The son of an Antwerp art dealer, Cornelis de Baellieur was apprenticed to Pieter Lisaert in 1617 and became a master in the guild of Saint Luke in 1626. He served as Dean of the guild in 1644-5. His work shares strong affinities with that of Frans Francken II (to whom this picture has previously been attributed) and it is thought that he may have spent part of his training in the elder artist's Antwerp studio. It was here that he would have met his exact contemporary and fellow pupil Frans Francken III.
Whereas Frans Francken III was a shop owner and did not become an independent master until 1639, De Baellieur was an independent master by 1626 and subsequently became Dean of the Guild of St Luke in 1644. Their mutual debt to the training they received in the atelier of Frans Francken II is such that it is difficult to distinguish two separate hands at work on this panel, and the possibility remains that De Baellieur was its sole author.
St. Cecilia was widely revered as the patron saint of music, whose playing was seen as analogous to the process of prayer and meditation. On her wedding day, while being led into the house of her husband to the sound of music ('cantantibus organis'), she invoked only God in her heart, asking him 'the favour of keeping her soul and body without stain'. 'Organum' in Latin means any instrument, musical or otherwise, but artists tended to identify it with the organ and it became St. Cecilia's attribute.