"The Musician", or 'Te veel is ongesond' is an original oil painting signed by the Dutch artist Willem Hendrik Schmidt. Paintings like this, with their meticulous attention to detail, were popular amongst Dutch collectors in the middle of the nineteenth century. As a matter of national pride in the Dutch painting traditions, they paid homage to the marvelous works of Old Master painters of the Dutch Gilded Age and artists like Johannes Vermeer, Gerard ter Borch and Nicolaes Maes. At the same time, such genre scenes were playful conversation pieces asking the viewer to interpret the narrative and morals contained within.
In the painting, the man is seated, and he smiles flirtatiously at the young woman. The guitar in his hand, a combination of a baroque guitar and a more modern parlor guitar, emphasizes romance and music as a tool for wooing. On the table, the viewer can read the title of the song he was playing, entitled "Te veel is ongesond". Translated, this title means 'Too much is unhealthy', a subtle warning to the viewer not about only the excesses of flirtation but perhaps also a warning about the excesses of drinking. In all of this, one asks about the identity of the young woman: given her fine gossamer bonnet that she wears indoors, she is probably married. Her upward pointing finger might imply higher virtues than the man's propositions. At the same time, however, perhaps she points to warn of the location of her husband to ensure that their flirtations remain a secret.
This painting presents a young man and woman in Regency costume in an interior. The cravat of the man, as well as the empire waist, bonnet and parted curls of the woman suggest that this scene is set around 1810 or 1820. Given, however, that the artist was born in 1809, and given the technical virtuosity of the painting, we know that Schmidt would have painted this later in life and closer to his 1849 death. It was not uncommon for artists to make nostalgic genre scenes during the nineteenth century, whether they mirror the costume of seventeenth-century Dutch merchants, Rococo aristocrats, or the youth of the early nineteenth century in Holland as is seen here.
The Rijksmuseum holds a large collection of Schmidt's drawings and sketches, and one in their collection is related to this painting. The 'Luitspeler', a quickly-executed pencil sketch (from the sketchbook accession no. RP-T-1981-78), shows a figure playing a lute while a second stands over them. This sketch is most likely after the composition by David Teniers rather than a study for this work, but it nonetheless demonstrates the artist's debt to the Dutch Old Masters and that Schmidt was considering compositions like the present work.
'The Musician', or 'Te veel is ongesond', ca. 1840
oil on wood panel
12.75 x 10.63 inches, panel
19.13 x 17.13 inches, frame
Signed "Schmidt" lower right.
Inscribed "#521" in graphite on reverse.
Inscribed "31976" twice in graphite on reverse.
Accompanied by 1968 letter from Lenz Art Studio (Milwaukee, WI).
Presented in historically appropriate wood and composition frame with gold finish.
Overall good and stable condition; restored and cleaned; some minor surface accretions.