c 1630

Bacchic Concert (c.1625-1630). Pietro Paolini (Italian, 1603-1681). Dallas Museum of Art.

Borrowing Caravaggio’s dramatic interplay of light and dark, Paolini bathes his musicians in a golden light as they emerge from the shadowy, mysterious background. The narrative is ambiguous, with the sidelong glance of the figure at right and the turned back of the figure reading at left. The text she studies is apparently a sonnet by the poet Petrarch, which reinforces the aura of mystery and even erotic tension.

Now thank we all our God, with heart, and hands, and voices, who wondrous things hath done, in whom his world rejoices; who from our mother’s arms hath blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today. ~ Martin Rinkart, c. 1630