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Oil painting - The Quintet

The Quintet

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Munich (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1890 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Piltz, Otto, born 1846 - died 1910 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on mahogany panel

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Henry Louis Florence

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Otto Plitz (1846-1910) was born in Allsted (Saxony) and probably settled soon in Munich where he died. He specilaised in genre scenes involving musicians.

This work is a fine example of the paintings produced in Munich in the second half of the 19th century, one of the main artistic centres in Germany along with Düsseldorf. The present painting shows a quintet rehearsal, a subject matter Piltz seems to have particularly favoured. The earthen palette and subject matter are characteristic of the realist movement emerged in the 1840s and influential throughout the century. Compare with similar compositions, this painting probably dates from the 1890s.

Physical description

A group of five musicians are depicted rehearsing in a poor domestic interior. They surround a table covered with sheets of music.

Place of Origin

Munich (painted)


ca. 1890 (painted)


Piltz, Otto, born 1846 - died 1910 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on mahogany panel

Marks and inscriptions

'O. Piltz'
Signed by the artist, lower left


Height: 59.1 cm estimate, Width: 73 cm estimate, :

Object history note

Perhaps identical with Musiklehrlinge in einem Dachkammer bei Ausübung ihres Berufs (60 x 74 cm.), sold Lepke, Berlin, 25 Oct. 1892; Henry L. Florence; by whom bequeathed to the Museum in 1917.

Historical significance: This painting is a fine example of the Munich school which was with Düsseldorf one of the main artistic centres in Germany. Munich school of painting developed, from the 21860s onwards, an art based on the style of 17th-century Dutch and Spanish portraiture, genre painting and history painting while taking in account the most innovative technique of the century. Although the present subject matter is not particularly Dutch or Spanish, it may be considered as an adaptation of the Dutch genre picture to the 19th-century daily life. This group of musicians are characterised by their outfits and the interior setting, which echoes the social reality of the 19th century.
Munich paintings are usually made in a minimal, bright, chromatic palette while the portraits and genre scenes appear in a manner that was clearly less dramatic and sentimental when compared with the preceding Düsseldorf school.
Most of Piltz's oeuvre can be found in private collections and the V&A is probably the only British public institutions to own an example of his work.

Descriptive line

Oil painting entitled 'The Quintet' by Otto Piltz. German School, ca. 1890.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900 , London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 82, cat. no. 179.


Oil paint; Mahogany


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Musicians; Men; Interior; Music; Genre scene


Paintings; Musical instruments


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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