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Musicians, Mummers and Drummers



Left: Maquette to simulate two live musicians in front of a mirror. Rembrandt had two African models at his disposal (see double portrait below)

Right: Rembrandt's drawing of four musicians. N.B.:

  1. This one drawing proves the presence of the mirror and therefore the fact that Rembrandt did not have a photographic memory. This must be a studio event.
  2. The nearest flautist plays his instrument the wrong way round, the reflected flautist, the right way round.
  3. The strange quality of the two (made up) feathers in third flautist's hat.
  4. The flautist cannot truly play the flute, nor does the oboist know how to hold his instrument - his hands are too close to the mouth-piece

Double Portrait of the two Africans who must have been part of Rembrandt's entourage - appearing in several works.


Left: The Mummers - When Rembrandt is drawing a feather that is not there he uses a flourish and parallel lines expressing his lack of interest - almost disdain.


Right: The Drummers - Note how the drums and elbows meet at the mirror surface. Again Rembrandt invents a new hat and feather.

These drawings were both developed in the same way. See how the elbows of both touch the mirror.  In fact the two mummers ride too close together to be on separate horses. This use of the mirror is a recurring gambit, nearly 100 examples can be cited.


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