Dirck van Baburen, Young Man Singing, 1622, oil on canvas, 71 x 59 cm. Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main.
Dirck van Baburen, 1592–1624, ranks among the most influential Dutch followers of the famous Italian painter Caravaggio. He developed a highly personal style characterised by a soft handling of paint and pale vibrant colouring. Most of Dirck van Baburen’s output is made up of history pieces, genre scenes, together with representations of picturesque figures, often in domestic settings. Around 1612, having studied under Paulus Moreelse in Utrecht, he visited Italy, remaining until about 1620. In Rome he was commissioned to decorate the San Pietro in Montorio chapel, which he completed with his friend and colleague David de Haen. Van Baburen's work shows the influence of Caravaggio in the theatrical use of chiaroscuro. The Italian’s zoom-in effect, portraying subjects half-length, filling the picture, also inspired Van Baburen’s dramatic compositions. Back in Utrecht, he continued to paint in the same style, working closely with Hendrick ter Brugghen. Van Baburen, Ter Brugghen and Gerard van Honthorst became known as the Utrecht Caravaggists. In this painting we see the popular subject of a flamboyantly dressed half-length figure singing. It is another influence from the work of Caravaggio and his immediate Roman followers. This type of picture of a life-size, half-length figure singing, drinking or playing a musical instrument became popular among all the Utrecht Caravaggists in the early 1620s.
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