The Dutch masterpiece hasn’t been on public display since 1795. But on Friday, the National Gallery of Art will announce that it acquired “The Concert,” by Gerrit van Honthorst. The six-foot-wide work, painted in 1623, will go on display in a special installation at the National Gallery of Art’s West Building on Friday morning. It is the gallery’s first painting by Honthorst, one of the preeminent painters of the Dutch Golden Age and part of the Utrecht “Caravaggisti,” or early-17th-century painters who were influenced by Italian baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. The National Gallery acquired the painting from a family’s private collection in France.
Arthur Wheelock, the National Gallery’s curator of northern baroque paintings, visited art dealer Adam Williams’s gallery in New York to view the piece. Wheelock recalls how Williams pulled back a curtain to show an unfamiliar dynamic work, portraying several musicians gathered around a table playing instruments. He didn’t know who painted it at first, having never seen an image of “The Concert.”