Dirck van Baburen (c. 1595-1624)
Young Man Singing, 1622
Oil on canvas - 71 x 58.8 cm
Frankfurt, Städel Museum
Photo : Städel Museum, Frankfurt
12/01/2008 — Acquisition — Frankfurt, Städel Museum — This German museum just acquired at the end of 2007, from a private collection, a canvas by Dirck van Baburen representing a Young Man Singing (ill.)
Dated 1622, the work was painted after Baburen’s return to his home city of Utrecht in 1620. After his early training under Paulus Moreelse, Baburen spent several years in Rome where he was deeply influenced by the works of Caravaggio and produced many religious paintings, including a chapel in San Pietro, Montorio. This popular figure is seen half-length, painted in a realist manner and stands out against a dark background all typical traits of Caravaggio’s followers in Holland (notably Honthorst and Ter Brugghen, the principal figures along with Baburen, of what is generally known as the Utrecht school), France (Vignon, Vouet, Tournier…) and Italy (Manfredi…). The museum in Nantes holds another version of the same composition, which seems to be of lesser quality.
The Frankfurt museum’s collection is rich in Dutch art, the most important of which are the famous The Blinding of Samson by Rembrandt and The Geographer by Vermeer. Until now, however, it did not own any Caravaggesque artist from the Utrecht school. Unfortunately, Baburen is sorely missing at the Louvre which permitted a large and beautiful painting by the artist (The Death of Uriah) sold for 10 million francs (about $2 000 000) in Paris to leave France twenty years ago. This same canvas came up for auction again last October 4th at Christie’s New York (rebaptized Achilles Preparing to Avenge the Death of Patroclus) where it sold for only $937,000. An excellent chance to bring it back to France for good was passed up.