Gerard ter Borch’s A Concert depicts an interior scene with two musicians, one playing a violone and the other at a harpsichord or clavichord. What strikes me about this work is the artist's vantage point, positioned over the violone player's shoulder, her face obscured to the viewer, thus granting her a special intrigue. Sure, we see the face of her companion, looking down at her keyboard, but the lady at the violone clearly arrests our attention. She appears absorbed in her performance, oblivious to our presence, as if this view were a snapshot taken with a camera. Unlike other Old Master paintings, many of which, as beautiful and brilliant as they are, nonetheless feel calculated and staged, A Concert has an intimate, candid quality which seems way ahead of its time.
The curves of the violone player’s right arm and upper torso, along with the sharp contours of her companion’s instrument—in itself an wonderful juxtaposition—create a focal area which leads our eye to around back of the her head. Here we admire her well-made coiffure and the ornament of her violone, but the star of our painting is that single, silver-colored earring, stationed so even and prominently, almost as if it were staring out back at us, perhaps lending her an eye for us to identify with.
I admire how the perspective backs us into the corner of the room where the other woman is situated at her keyboard, creating a very tight, well-constructed scene which wisely grants the empty space above, allowing the eye some room to venture upward and breathe. And who could miss the painting on the wall, depicting a seascape with boat, treating us to a view of the world beyond their interior confines? Perhaps it might even serve as a representation of the music being performed. At any rate, the frame serves its purpose to balance out the composition.
I really enjoy this piece, and I hope you can identify with it as well.