|| In his formative years in Leiden and then in Amsterdam, Jan Lievens, like his friend and colleague Rembrandt, was influenced by the exuberant and boldly dramatic close-up paintings of tavern scenes by Utrecht painters such as Jan van Bylert, as in the latter's Merry Company (37.707). Single figures of swaggering musicians spotlighted in a dramatic fashion were one of the favorite subjects of this school. Lievens responds to this development but interprets the mood of his musician as contemplative and introspective. The delicacy of his handling of light and color, in contrast to the brasher exuberance of Van Bylert’s Girl Teasing a Cat (37.2659), contributes to this mood.
Was his model for this musician his friend Rembrandt van Rijn? Scholars of Lievens now think that Lievens, like other struggling young artists, sometimes asked friends to sit for them to make the subject genuinely life-like and that here the model is Rembrandt, whose renown is now world-wide.