About the Artist
Gerrit van Honthorst (1592–1656) has long been considered one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age. After training in Utrecht, he traveled to Italy around 1615, where he embraced the radical stylistic and thematic ideas of Caravaggio. The immediacy of Caravaggio's religious and genre scenes, which are characterized by dramatic gestures and pronounced contrasts of light and dark, inspired a generation of "Caravaggisti" throughout Europe. These artists generally worked directly from posed models, as Caravaggio did, and brought their scenes close to the picture plane to suggest that they were an extension of everyday experiences. Honthorst, in particular, painted with verve and assurance, utilizing bright colors and strong chiaroscuro effects, and his life-sized sensuous figures dressed in exotic costumes gave a bold presence to his images.
These National Gallery of Art holiday cards depict a detail from The Concert (1623) by Gerrit van Honthorst. The inside greeting reads: "With all good wishes for Christmas and the New Year."
The Concert is first mentioned in a 1632 inventory of one of Prince Maurits of Nassau's (also known as the Prince of Orange) palaces in The Hague. Although the painting may have been purchased by Maurits, it may also have been a diplomatic gift. The Concert was much more than a decorative element in a courtly setting. It also had an underlying political message: harmony in society, as well as in music, exists when the guidance of its leader is followed.
- 16 cards, 16 envelopes
- 7 x 5 inches