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The Eloquent OboeA History of the Hautboy from 1640 to 1760$

Bruce Haynes

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195337259

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195337259.001.0001

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(p.474) Appendix 4 Plate 2.7. Anonymous oil portrait of an hautboist (Berlin: Staatliches Institut fur Musikforschung)

(p.474) Appendix 4 Plate 2.7. Anonymous oil portrait of an hautboist (Berlin: Staatliches Institut fur Musikforschung)

The Eloquent Oboe
Oxford University Press


Because of the player’s silk gown, which has a particular and well-known design based on a ‘point’ or ‘mirror’ repeat, this painting is ‘extremely unlikely to pre-date 1720’. The wig-type ‘came in during the 1720s, and remained popular for several decades’. Clare Brown (pers. comm.), Assistant Curator and specialist in European silks, Department of Textiles and Dress, Victoria and Albert Museum, would on this basis (having seen a photograph of the painting) date it to c. 1725–32.

Player’s age and status

Since the player is about 60 or a little more, he would have been born in the 1660s. He was clearly a virtuoso, as the concerto under his elbow is in F minor. Being a good player and having his portrait made, he was probably in the employ of a patron who both appreciated him and could afford to pay for the portrait. He was thus presumably a player of enough renown that we know of him now.


The player’s robe was of a material made and used in many countries in Europe (Clare Brown, pers. comm.). The handwriting of the concerto (which is presumably his) shows German traits (the capital ‘C and the treble clefs). That the part is for ‘Oboe’ argues against a French nationality.

Instrument and reed

The instrument matches the dates, although it could have been made as early as c. 1700. The reed dimensions are discussed in Chapter 2, §E.3.c.

Hautboists who match this profile

The subject of this portrait was thus probably born in the 1660s and was a successful virtuoso of German nationality. He was possibly employed at a court. There are nearly a dozen hautboists who match this profile, including Blockwitz, Erdmann, Freymuth, Galliard, (p.475) Hetsch, Hildebrand, Leonhardt, Pepusch, Schuechbauer, Weiss, and Würdig. Considering that the portrait is now in Berlin,1 Gottfried Pepusch (fl. 1692–1736) is the most likely candidate as a subject of this portrait. Although the court Capelle was inactive there between 1713 and 1740, Pepusch was actively employed in the royal service at this time as an instructor of hautboists. He had been master of the music corps of the King’s bodyguard and had a title of general army music inspector at Berlin. From 1724 he was director of the Hautboistenschule at Potsdam.


(1) The Institut knows nothing of the painting’s provenance.