News | Published: Tue 2 Nov 2010

A Dutch masterwork and furniture fit for a king: seventeenth-century artworks join Fitzwilliam Museum's collection

The world-class collections of the Fitzwilliam Museum have been enriched with the acquisition of two seventeenth-century masterworks: a Caravaggio-inspired Dutch painting, and an exceptional Louis XIV cabinet.

These two works, Young woman tuning a lute (1626-7) by Hendrik ter Brugghen and a Louis XIV première-and contre-partie tortoiseshell and floral marquetry cabinet-on-stand (c. 1680) by André-Charles Boulle, are now on public display as part of the Fitzwilliam's permanent collection, which ranges from antiquities to contemporary art.

Young woman tuning a lute takes its place within the Fitzwilliam's fine collection of Dutch paintings thanks to generous grants of £225,000 from the Art Fund and £50,000 from the MLA/V&A Purchase Fund. This is the Museum’s first acquisition of a work by ter Brugghen - one of the leading painters amongst the Utrecht followers of Caravaggio - and is one of only a handful of works by this artist in the UK. Ter Brugghen, who died young, was an important innovator for later Dutch 17th-century genre paintings, and has more recently been recognised as an unorthodox but significant influence on the work of artists such as Vermeer.

The six-foot high Louis XIV cabinet has entered the Fitzwilliam's collections having been allocated through HM Government’s Acceptance in Lieu scheme (administered by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and enabling items of historical or artistic importance to be given to the nation in place of inheritance tax). Its maker Boulle was arguably the pre-eminent cabinet-maker of the late Baroque period, and was awarded the title of cabinet-maker to Louis XIV in 1672. An exceptional example of the most expensive and fashionable kind of display furniture produced for the monarch and his court, this cabinet combines beautiful materials with exquisite designs to create a visually stunning piece of luxury furniture, truly fit for a king.

These acquisitions will allow visitors - of which there were 390,000, last year - to enjoy two exceptional artworks on prominent display. The Boulle cabinet was previously at Wrotham Park in Hertfordshire, a private residence not open to the general public.

Visitors can now see Young woman tuning a lute and the Louis XIV cabinet in Galleries 15 and 17 respectively of the Museum.

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