Art Sunday #117: Gerard ter Borch – The Gallant Conversation


The Gallant Conversation is an oil-on-canvas painting from circa 1654 by Gerard ter Borch (the Younger). A late 18th century French print of the work is titled The Paternal Admonition, apparently believing it showed a father reprimanding his daughter, but modern art historians see it as a conversation between two prospective lovers, either a discussion of a betrothal or, more likely, a customer propositioning a prostitute in a brothel.

The painting shows a man talking to a young woman. The woman is dressed in an exquisite silver satin gown which immediately draws the viewer’s attention to her as the focus of the scene, while the man is in military dress and holds a finely decorated hat on his lap. Next to the man sits an older woman drinking wine, seemingly uninterested in the conversation between the man and the girl. To the side of the girl is a table with a burning candle, mirror, powder puff, combs and a trailing ribbon. Behind the man’s chair, a scruffy dog can be seen, and to the rear of the picture is a large bed.



15 thoughts on “Art Sunday #117: Gerard ter Borch – The Gallant Conversation

  1. I don’t think it’s a Paternal Admonition. The young man is too young to be the father. However, there does seem to be a serious conversation going on – mostly directed by the young man. The young woman is either embarrassed or uncomfortable by her stance, head downward. Interesting painting, Jim. It would fit nicely in our living room.

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  2. This picture is fascinating. I went to the link and the description of why the two different interpretations as well as the different copies really brought the text to life. Thank you Jim for another Sunday at a museum. ~~dru~~

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