Gerard ter Borch The Messenger, known as 'The Unwelcome News'
On view in Room 15
Ter Borch became famous for his intimate scenes of people engrossed in what they are doing, often unaware of our presence. He also had an exceptional talent for depicting different materials, like the gleaming satin of the girl’s dress.
Here, we see a soldier receiving a letter from a messenger. It’s easy to imagine that the letter is a call to the front, away from the girl who leans against him so lovingly.
Possibly identical with a painting in the sale of Petronella de la Court, widow of Adam Oortmans, Amsterdam, 19 October 1707 (Lugt 207), no. 31 (‘Een Trompetter by een Krygsoverste, van Gerard ter Burg’; 92 guilders); Govert van Slingelandt, The Hague, in or before 1752-1767; his widow, Agatha Huydecoper, The Hague, 1767-1768; Van Slingelandt sale, The Hague, 18 May 1768 (Lugt 1683), no. 31; the entire collection van Slingelandt sold to Prince William V; Prince William V, The Hague, 1768-1795; confiscated by the French, transferred to the Muséum Central des Arts/Musée Napoléon (Musée du Louvre), Paris, 1795-1815; Royal Picture Gallery, housed in the Prince William V Gallery, The Hague, 1816; transferred to the Mauritshuis, 1822