François Langlois, Playing a Musette

oil painting portrait of man in red with hat holding a musette, bag-pipe instrument, circa 1641

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641)
François Langlois, Playing a Musette, 1641 (?)
Oil on canvas
41 1/4 × 33 1/8 in. (104.8 × 84.1 cm)
The National Gallery, London, and Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham

With its vivid color scheme and fluid brushwork, this portrait has long been seen as an exception within the work of Van Dyck’s last period. The print publisher and art dealer François Langlois, a key figure in the world of European publishing, is most likely depicted here at the very end of Van Dyck’s life, when the two men were both in Paris. Van Dyck’s unusual composition, which may reflect a friendship between sitter and painter, shows Langlois playing a musette, a kind of bagpipe on which he is reputed to have been a virtuoso.

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