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Interior with a flute player

Follower of Hooch Pieter de

(Rotterdam 1629 - Amsterdam after 1684)

Like many other works executed by Flemish artists which still form part of the Borghese Collection, this painting was purchased by Marcantonio IV Borghese in 1783. It depicts a flute player, shown with several drinkers in a sparsely-furnished tavern while he plays his instrument.

The second-rate quality of this panel, whose subject fits well into the repertoire of Dutch painting, has led critics to ascribe it to a follower of Pieter de Hooch, an artist active Utrecht. In the past, the work was in fact attributed to De Hooch himself.

Object details

oil on panel
cm 60 x 73

19th-centuruy frame, 76.3 x 91.1 x 7 cm


Rome, purchased by Marcantonio IV Borghese from Giovanni de Rossi, 1783 (Della Pergola 1959); Inventario Fidecommissario Borghese 1833, p. 13. Purchased by Italian state, 1902.


Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1906 Luigi Bartolucci (pest control)
  • 1936 Augusto Cecconi Principi


This ‘larger bombacciata by P. de Hage’ was purchased on 13 October 1783 by Prince Marcantonio IV Borghese, who paid 50 scudi for this and six other foreign works to a certain Giovanni de Rossi, a ‘merchant in this genre’ (Della Pergola 1959). Although not mentioned in the inventory of 1790, it appears in the 1833 Inventario Fidecommissario as a work by Giovanni Le Ducq. This attribution was, however, rejected by both Bürger (1866) and Harvard (1888), who favoured Jan Vermeer. For his part, Giovanni Piancastelli returned to the name of Le Ducq. Adolfo Venturi (1893) was the first scholar to propose an attribution to Pieter De Hooch, even without the benefit of the document cited by Della Pergola above. Venturi’s opinion was accepted by most subsequent critics (Cust 1914; Longhi 1928; De Rinaldis 1939; Della Pergola 1959; Peter C. Sutton 1979) and most recently confirmed by Chiara Stefani (in Galleria Borghese 2000) and Kristina Herrmann Fiore (2006).

A different theory, however, was put forth by Émile Durand-Gréville, whose view was reported by Giulio Cantalamessa in his Note manoscritte (1911-1912): according to the French scholar, the Borghese panel was executed by Quiringh Gerritsz van Brekelenkam, the Dutch painter who trained under Gerrit Dou, who influenced much of his artistic repertoire. While this thesis has the merit of keeping the work in the sphere of the Dutch school, it is marred by the fact that Brekelenkam, like De Hooch, was too skilled a painter to produce this panel, which critics have deemed as ‘not of the highest quality’ (see Della Pergola 1959).

Perhaps basing his conclusion on the opinions of Cornelis Hofstade de Groot (1909) and Lionel Cust (1914), in 1979 Peter C. Sutton confirmed that the work in question was by De Hooch himself. He further dated the work to this artist’s early career, given that before he had reached artistic maturity he based his production on mostly primary colours.

According to Cust (1914), the work in question shows the influence of Carel Fabritius. Critics have also pointed to similarities with the Soldiers with a Serving Maid in a Barn in the Johnson Collection in Philadelphia (see in this regard Valentiner 1929).

Antonio Iommelli

  • W. Bürger, Van der Meer de Delft, in “Gazette des Beaux-Arts”, XXI, 1866, p. 549, n. 11;
  • X. Barbier de Montault, Les Musées et Galeries de Rome, Rome 1870, p. 363;
  • C. Lemcke, Jan Vermeer (van der Meer) aus Delft, in Dohme, Kunst und Künstler, II-1, Leipzig 1878, nn. 29-31;
  • H. Havard, Van der Meer, Paris 1888, p. 36, nota 12;
  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 418;
  • C. Hofstede de Groot, Proeve Kritische Beschrijving van het Werk van Pieter de Hoock, in “Oud Holland”, X, 1892, p. 272;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 141;
  • G. Lafenestre, E. Richtenberger, La peinture en Europe. Rome. Les Musées, les Collections particulières, les Palais, Paris 1905, p. 32;
  • J. A. Rusconi, La Villa, il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Bergamo 1906, p. 88;
  • C. Hofstede de Groot, Beschreibendes und Kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten Holländìschen Maler des XVII. Jahrhundert, Esslingen-Paris 1907, I, pp. 550-551, 612, n. 272;
  • A. De Rudder, Pieter de Hooch et son oeuvre, Bruxelles 1914, pp. 28, 103;
  • K. Woermann, Geschichte der Kunst, Leipzig-Wien 1920, V, p. 348;
  • W. Bode, Die Kunst der Frührenaissance, Berlin 1923, pp. 80-81;
  • L. Cust, Notes on pictures in the Royal Collections, “The Burlington Magazine”, XXV, 1924, p. 205;
  • C. Brière-Misme, Tableaux inédites ou peu connus de Pieter de Hooch, “Gazette des Beaux-Arts”, XVI, 1927, p. 372;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 201;
  • W. R. Valentiner, Pieter de Hoock, Stuttgart-Berlin-Leipzig 1929, pp. 20, 267-68, 303;
  • A. De Rinaldis, La Galleria Borghese in Roma, Roma 1939, p. 42;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese in Roma, Roma 1951, p. 50;
  • P. Della Pergola, Un acquisto di opere fiamminghe per la Galleria Borghese, “Mededeelingen van het Nederländsch. Historisch. Instituut te Rome”, X, 1958, p. 34;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, II, Roma 1959, p. 166, n. 240;
  • P. C. Sutton, A newly discovered Work by Pieter de Hooch, “The Burlington Magazine”, CXXI, 1979, p. 34;
  • C. Stefani, in P. Moreno, C. Stefani, Galleria Borghese, Milano 2000, p. 357;
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, Galleria Borghese Roma scopre un tesoro. Dalla pinacoteca ai depositi un museo che non ha più segreti, San Giuliano Milanese 2006, p. 91.