Gallant Conversation

Gerard ter Borch (II), ca. 1654
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The Gallant Conversation that Gerard ter Borch the Younger produced around 1654 is a masterpiece of Dutch painting. It was here that he perfected his trademark, the stunning reproduction of glittering satin costumes. It was also in this work, of which two almost identical versions have survived, that he developed one of the most successful motifs in seventeenth-century Dutch genre painting: the figure of a young woman seen in a beguiling view from behind. Ter Borch’s composition, originally conceived as an amorous seduction scene, has been interpreted in a variety of sometimes contradictory ways down the centuries. Goethe finally immortalized it with the reinterpretation he gave in his novel Die Wahlverwandschaften, entitling it Fatherly Admonition. Numerous repetitions, partial copies, and imitations bear witness to the composition’s extraordinary popularity, especially as regards the figure seen from behind in her white satin dress. Thanks in part to these virtuoso variations, Ter Borch’s work became an icon of Dutch genre painting.

Katja Kleinert, Curator of Dutch and Flemish Seventeenth-century Art, Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin

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Identical Artwork

Nearly identical version of the artwork in the collection of the Gemäldegalerie, Staaliche Museen Zu Berlin

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Comparing Conversations

Exhibition on the two identical artworks

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