Nicolas Regnier (Niccolò Renieri), Divine Inspiration of Music, c. 1640, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Stewart Resnick, Mr. and Mrs. Jo Swerling, Mathilda L. Calnan from the estate of Charles Alexander Loeser, Mr. and Mrs. David Bright, Alexander M. Lewyt, Museum Associates Acquisition Fund, Isaacs Brothers Company, anonymous donor in memory of Mary M. Edmunds, William Randolph Hearst Collection, Mr. and Mrs. Allan C. Balch Collection, and Mr. and Mrs. Allan C. Balch Fund by exchange, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

LACMA Favorites: Nicolas Regnier’s Divine Inspiration of Music

February 20, 2024
Emily Lewis, Visitor Services Associate
Alexander Schneider, Associate Editor

For the series LACMA Favorites, we’re sharing highlights from LACMA’s collections and exhibitions chosen by staff from across the museum. 

Flemish artist Nicolas Regnier’s 1640 painting Divine Inspiration of Music was created in Venice, at the time known as the “Republic of Music” due in part to the popularity of musical instruments in homes. Now on view in The World Made Wondrous: The Dutch Collector’s Cabinet and the Politics of Possession, which recreates a fictive 17th-century Dutch collector’s cabinet to examine the political and colonial histories of European collecting practices, this scene depicts in picturesque detail two women among sheets of music and instruments like violins, a viola, and a long-neck lute known as a theorbo. 

“I really loved how the artist created this scene between the two women discussing music,” says Emily Lewis, Visitor Services Associate. “In a lot of art at this time, before this time, and even after this time, women are seen as objects or accessories, pieces to be viewed as beautiful and nothing else.” In contrast, the two subjects of this scene, inspired by their artistic pursuits and the beautifully rendered ensemble of instruments, are focused on each other, deeply engaged in conversation as one of them takes a break from her playing.

The World Made Wondrous is on view in the Resnick Pavilion through March 3, 2024.