National Gallery opens Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure

The National Gallery in London presents Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure an exhibition on view 26 June – 8 September 2013. This exhibition combining the art of Vermeer and his contemporaries with rare musical instruments, songbooks and live music.

Johannes Vermeer (1632 - 1675), The Guitar Player, about 1672. Oil on canvas, 53 x 46.3 cm. On loan from English Heritage, The Iveagh Bequest (Kenwood)© English Heritage.

Johannes Vermeer (1632 – 1675), The Guitar Player, about 1672. Oil on canvas, 53 x 46.3 cm. On loan from English Heritage, The Iveagh Bequest (Kenwood)© English Heritage.

For the first time the National Gallery’s two paintings by Vermeer, A Young Woman standing at a Virginal and A Young Woman seated at a Virginal are brought together with Vermeer’s Guitar Player, which is currently on exceptional loan from the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood House.

Three days a week visitors can experience live performances in the exhibition space by the Academy of Ancient Music, bringing the paintings to life with music of the period.

Music was one of the most popular themes in Dutch painting, and carried many diverse associations. In portraits, a musical instrument or songbook might suggest the education or social position of the sitter; in scenes of everyday life, it might act as a metaphor for harmony, or a symbol of transience.

The exhibition displays 17th-century virginals (a type of harpsichord), guitars and lutes alongside the paintings to offer unique insights into the painters’ choice of instruments, and the difference between the real instruments and the way in which the painters chose to represent them. www.nationalgallery.org.uk

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