Les Chanteurs et la Partition
(Johannes Loeffius)


The attribution to Loeffius was made by Professor Willem van de Watering, formerly of the Rijksmuseum. Professor van de Watering was only aware of one other autograph work by the artist which was formerly in a collection in Stuttgart. This painting represents a standing young woman in a landscape, and it was sold by Lempertz, Cologne in 2013. He made the attribution for the present picture in 1975 when he identified the signature as that of Johannes Loeffius. He then stated that nothing is known regarding the artist’s origin or his exact dates, only that he worked in Utrecht around 1660 and was a member of the confraternity of Saint-Luc between 1659 and 1661. Professor van de Watering suggested that the artist may well have worked in Utrecht for several years before entering the guild or maybe in another city, since the name of Loeffius also occurs in Amersfoort. He was unable to find any further archival reference to the painter. As professor van de Watering has pointed out, our painting is decidedly Caravaggesque in feeling and resembles the style of such artist as TerBruggen, Hendrick Bloemaert, Paulus Moreelse and Jan van Bijlert. In consequence this painting should be dated circa 1635-40.

When the painting was sold in France, the subject was called Singers with a Score. But the piece of paper being held clearly does not denote music and bares an official seal. Rather it may represent a well-known poem which the figures are declaiming. Another possibility might be that there is a dispute about a bill between the male and elderly female personages, possibly relating to a dispute over a tavern bill because one of the background figures is brandishing a goblet. However, it has also been suggested that the painting may represent an Old Testament subject, namely Levi, the Tax Collector (later St Matthew). This would be an unusual representation as Levi is usually represented being interrupted by Christ while he is counting money or exacting taxes. If this latter interpretation is correct, then the scene shows Levi immediately before his calling.

84 X 102.5 cm
Oil on canvas

Private Collection, France since the 19th Century;

By descent to A.Godin, Luisant until 1987; inherited by her nephew;

Private collection Nimes.

Where is It?
Netherlandish - Dutch