(active in the 1610s in Rome)

The Flute Player

Oil on canvas, 103 x 138 cm
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

In a room containing shelves and a table, a young man is about to start playing the flute. Placed on the shelves are bowls, plates and jugs as well as bread and cheese. A small cheese (or head of garlic) hangs precariously from a string tied around a nail on the front of the shelf. On a table, diagonally receding to both left and right, is a glass vase full of water. Other containers on the table are surrounded by single pieces of fruit, a teething ring and a violin and bow.

The Flute Player was at one stage attributed to Louis Finson, but is now almost universally accepted as the work of Cecco del Caravaggio. However, doubts are still being voiced about a possible collaboration with a specialist in still-life painting. The subject of an instrumentalist derives from Caravaggio's Lute Player (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), and in this case the artist must have been a friend, student or model of Caravaggio's. The mysterious figure of 'Francesco, called Cecco del Caravaggio' mentioned by Giulio Mancini, has recently acquired a slightly more precise identity. The examination of known works by this artist led to the hypothesis that he was from France, Flanders or Spain.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 15 minutes):
Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata in A Major for flute and cembalo obligato, BWV 1032