Gerard ter Borch the younger (Zwolle 1617 - Deventer 1681)
A woman in a dazzling white gown delicately accepts the gallant address of a smiling officer in a richly-appointed Dutch interior. Behind them, several more figures congregate around a table, one of whom plays the lute. For all the fine manners on display in this scene, all may not be quite as respectable as it first seems. Military men are generally up to no good in Dutch genre paintings and even music, evocative of love-making, carried disreputable overtones; the phrase ‘to strum the lute’ was even an innuendo for sexual intercourse. Just above the highly-charged point in the composition where the couple joins hands, ter Borch has positioned a golden timepiece as a reminder of the vanity of earthly desires. To tantalising effect, it is left up to the viewer to guess how improper this company really is. Are we to understand this as an upstanding household threatened by luxurious excess and base instincts, or is this a house of ill-repute, and the woman hovering in the background between the couple as the young woman’s procuress?
Oil painting on canvas, The Introduction by Gerard ter Borch the younger (Zwolle 1617 - Deventer 1681), c.1662. An interior with a soldier in buff coloured doublet, cuirass and jackboots, bowing to a young woman dressed in white stain, whose left hand he takes; two ladies and a man are sitting at a table at the back of the room, the latter playing a lute; to the right is a fireplace and chair.
J. van der Marck sale, Amsterdam, 25 September 1773, lot 326; J.J. de Bruyn sale, Amsterdam, 12 September 1798, lot 8; purchased by Lord Stafford at Christie's, 26 April 1806, lot 11, 'Private Property consigned from Abroad' ("Crawford" ?James/George Crauford); at Stafford House (Duke of Sutherland) in 1854; purchased by Lesser at Mrs Lyne Stephens sale, Christie's, 11 May 1895, lot 347; purchased by William McEwan (1827-1913) from Lesser for £3,000, 1896. Bequeathed in 1942 by Margaret Helen Greville DBE (1863-1942) to the National Trust, along with the Polesden Lacey Estate in memory of her father William McEwan MP (1827-1913). [The probate inventory of January 1943 shows this item in the record for Polesden Lacey pictures, drawings etc., stored in the cellar, page 166.]
Makers and roles
Gerard ter Borch the younger (Zwolle 1617 - Deventer 1681), artist
In Trust for the Nation, National Gallery, London, 1995 - 1996, no.64 The Treasure Houses of Britain, National Gallery of Art, Washington, USA, 1985 - 1986, no.293 Dutch Pictures 1450-1750, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1952 - 1953, no.398
Britton 1808 John Britton, Catalogue Raisonné of the Pictures belonging to the Most Honourable The Marquess of Stafford in the Gallery of Cleveland House, London, 1808, p.143, no.249 Ottley and Tomkins 1818 William Young Ottley and Peltro William Tomkins, Engravings of the Most Noble The Marquess of Stafford's Collection in London, 4 vols., London, 1818, vol.III, class III, p.100, no.71 Buchanan 1824 W. Buchanan, Memoirs of Paintings, 2 vols., London, 1824, vol.II, p.183 Smith 1829-42 John Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters, 8 vols and supplement, London, 1829-42, vol.IV , pp.130-1, no.41 Waagen 1838 Gustav Waagen, Works of Art and Artists in England, 3 vols. (translated by H.E. Lloyd) London, 1838, vol.II, p.253 Waagen 1854-7 Gustav Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, 3 vols. (translated by Lady Eastlake) with a supplementary volume: Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain, London, 1854-7, vol.II, p.71 Hofstede de Groot 1907-28 C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century, 8 vols., London, 1907-28, vol. V, no.164 Woman and Child in Art (exh cat) Grosvenor Gallery, London, 26 November 1913 - 11 February 1914, no.62 Dutch Art 1450-1900 (exh cat) Royal Academy, London, 4 January - 9 March 1929, no.228 Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century (exh cat) Arts Council travelling exhibition, 1945, no.37 Some Dutch Cabinet Pictures of the Seventeenth Century (exh cat) (ed. Mary Woodall), Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, 26 August - 8 October 1950, no.398 Dutch Painting, the Golden Age: An Exhibition of Dutch Pictures of the Seventeenth Century (exh cat) Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio and Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1954-5, no.12 Dutch Genre Painting: Arts Council of Great Britain, Welsh Committee (exh cat) National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, August 1-30, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, September 6-27 and Glyn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, October 4-25 1958, no.38 Gudlaugsson 1960 S.J. Gudlaugsson, Katalog der Gemälde Gerard Ter Borch, The Hague, 1960, vol.I, pp.132-3, no.187; p.330; vol.II, pp.183-84 Polesden Lacey, Surrey, 1971 [The National Trust;St. John Gore] 1964; revised 1971, p.26, no.50 Art in Seventeenth Century Holland (exh cat), The National Gallery, London, 30 September - 12 December 1976, no.13 The Treasure Houses of Britain: Five Hundred Years of Private Patronage and Art Collecting (exh cat) (ed. Gervase Jackson-Stops) National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2 November 1985 - 16 March 1986, no.293 Dutch Painting in the Seventeenth Century: Images of a Golden Age in British Collections (exh cat) (Christopher Wright) City Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, October 1989 - January 1990., no.40 Williams 1994 Julia Lloyd Williams, 'Ale, altruism and art: The benefactions of William McEwan', Apollo, May 1994, p.51 In Trust for the Nation: Paintings from National Trust Houses (exh cat) (Alastair Laing) The National Gallery, London, 22 November 1995 - 10 March 1996, pp.176-7, no.64 Gerard ter Borch (exh cat), National Gallery of Art, Washington, 7 November 2004 - 30 January 2005 and Institute of Arts, Detroit, 27 February - 22 May 2005, pp.141-3, no.36 Chu 2017 John Chu, The Pictures at Polesden Lacey, National Trust, 2017, p. 14 Prized Possessions: Dutch Paintings from National Trust Houses (exh. cat.), Holburne Museum, Bath 25 May - 16 Sep 2018; Mauritshuis, The Hague, 11 Oct 2018 - 6 Jan 2019; Petworth House, West Sussex, 26 Jan - 24 Mar 2019., pp.64-7, no. 3