A Scholar Expounding
c. 1610-20
"Master of the Lute Player" (Italian, 17th century)
On View

Few artists garnered such a large international following as the Italian Baroque artist Caravaggio. His work was highly contro-versial, being both criticized for its vulgarity and praised for its unrelenting naturalism. His followers—known as Caravaggisti—included artists from France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain who admired Caravaggio’s anecdotal genre scenes of contemporary subjects and his characteristic use of the half-length portrait.

In this study, an anonymous man appears to address us from behind his desk, and is surrounded by the implements of his vocation: a terrestrial globe, inkwell, quill pen and open books. He was a geographer, or perhaps a cosmographer, a scientist who studies the main features of the heavens and earth, including astronomy, geography and geology. He is dressed in a red doublet with stripes of gold braid, typical of Central or Eastern European dress. With his lips parted and head tilted, he appears to be engaged in an animated conversation with his portraitist.


  • Artist Name: "Master of the Lute Player" (Italian, 17th century)
  • Title: A Scholar Expounding
  • Date: c. 1610-20
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 51 x 38-1/8 in. (129.5 x 96.8 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1968.11.03.P
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

Morris I. Kaplan, Chicago (sale London, Sotheby's, 12 June 1968, lot 20, ill., to);
The Norton Simon Foundation.
B. NIcolson, The International Caravaggesque Movement: List of Pictures by Cravaggio and his Followers Throughout Europe from 1590-1650, no. 11 p. 38
Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, p. 38
Koelsch, William A., Classical Geography: Unearthing Historical Geography's Forgotten Past, Fig. 1 p. 5
Baldi, Pio, Laura Cibrario, and Fabiola Jatta, Aperti per restauri: Il restauro di Venere e Amore del Guercino e dell'Allegoria della Fortuna di Guido Reni,
Gianni Papi and Cecco Del Caravaggio, Cecco del Caravaggio, fig. 68 P. 43, 44, 49, n. 33
Gianni Papi and Palazzo Reale Di Milano, Il Genio Degli Anonimi: Maestri Caravaggeschi a Roma E a Napoli, pp. 51-52, D3
Nicolson, Benedict, The International Caravaggesque Movement. Lists of Pictures by Caravaggio and his Followers throughout Europe from 1590 to 1650., no. 11 p. 38
Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, cat. 472 p. 302
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