Paulus Bor, Horn Player (Bacchus)

Paulus BOR

(Amersfoort, c. 1601 – 1669)

Horn Player

Oil on panel, 55 x 47.5 cm


Paulus Bor is one of the most fascinating painters of the 17th century. Coming from a wealthy noble family, he probably did not need to paint for an income. This might explain his preference for such unusual subjects rarely painted by other artists as Ovid’s tale of Cydippe displayed in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (Cydippe met de appel van Acontius, 1645-1655, 151 x 113.5 cm, no. SKA-4666). Bor rarely signed and dated his works, but experts can identify his pieces for his unique painting style. Bor’s pictures are stylish in the contemporary meaning of the word – they are characterized by conflating dramatic lighting effects and classical formalism. It is obvious that the Dutch master’s artistic vision was largely inspired by the art of his contemporary Rembrandt and the works by Caravaggio, which he saw during his stay in Rome in the 1620s.

Paulus Bor was fond of mythological and allegoric subjects. The painting depicts a musician, probably, Bacchus, who is delightedly playing the horn. His puffed-out cheeks and eyes directed to the painting’s spectator make the image lively and sticking to memory. The composition was created in the genre of tronie that was so popular in Holland in the 17th century. The portrait is exceptionally precious – it is among the few Bor-attributed pieces, as not more than 30 works by Bor are known today. Many of them are exhibited in state museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Museum in Poznan (Muzeum Narodowe), the Museum of Fine Arts in Rouen (Mus.e des Beaux-Arts, Rouen), the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the Central Museum of Utrecht in the Netherlands, and in prominent private collections in Europe.

Condition report:

In overall very good condition.


Important private collection, Zürich, Switzerland


Art Rules, exhibition’s catalogue, Tallinn, June – October 2015, p. 58-59 (illustrated and on the cover)


The Exhibition “Art Rules” organized by Art-Life Project in Tallinn Town Hall, 5 June 2015 – 5 October 2015, Estonia

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