The Lute Player and Le Mezzetin

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The essay "The Lute Player and Le Mezzetin" compares two paintings, “The Lute Player” and “Le Mezzetin”. Caravaggio painted The Lute Player for the Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte as part of family collection for the Del Monte estate. The madrigal text visible to the spectator is written in Franco-Flemish language, which must have been influenced by the preference of the patron. For a time, many experts were confounded about the authenticity of this painting after several copies surfaced. It was found that there were three Lute Player paintings, the one that came from the Del Monte Collection, the Hermitage and Badminton House versions. These painting all depicted a boy playing a lute as he sings a madrigal, a Baroque song, about love. Some details differ according to versions. For instance, the last two versions have flowers and fruits in them and the text in the madrigals are visible. The number of authentic copies is attributed to Caravaggio’s style of copying his own work, polishing or simply copying a replica. Often this results in better executed imagery in latter copies as the paintings have new elements added. The historical background of Le Mezzetin, on the other hand, is quite simple and brief. It was just one of Watteau’s paintings commissioned by his friend and patron, Jean de Jullienne. Hence, the painting or any artistic intentions and motivations must have been confined or intended for this fact. As some historical account revealed, Jullienne was an important part of Watteau’s life.