The Unburdened Musician (Primary Title)
Le sommeil trompeur (Former Title)
The Unburdened Musician (formerly titled Le Sommeil trompeur) (Former Title)

Louis-Léopold Boilly, French, 1761 - 1845 (Artist)

ca. 1789‒1793
Oil on canvas
Unframed: 15 3/4 x 12 3/4 in. Framed: 23 x 20 x 3 in.
Boilly’s charming domestic scene captures the persistence of the theatrical character of bourgeois culture during the earliest period of the French Revolution. The viewer is invited to witness an intimate and humorous episode from the daily life of a young musician. Seated, he leans on a pianoforte with his eyes closed and his hand pressed to his forehead, as though overcome by the distress of creative exhaustion. A young woman has entered through the doorway. She smiles affectionately, apparently amused by her lover’s melodramatic temperament, as she attempts to slip a bound volume from beneath his arm. Scenes of messengers, servants, or lovers intruding into a private space constitute a touchstone of Dutch genre painting, although the drama that played out between the anonymous figures in those paintings usually had heavily moralistic overtones. In contrast, this lady’s attempt to ease her lover’s anguish embodies the lighthearted pleasure and playful eroticism that defined Boilly’s own epoch.
Signed in lower right: L Boilly
The Jordan and Thomas A. Saunders III Collection

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