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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Vermeer, Johannes


The Music Lesson
c.1665
oil on canvas
74.6 x 64.1 cm
Royal Collection, St. James' Palace, London, UK

The Music Lesson or Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman is a painting of young female pupil receiving the titular music lesson. This painting has been part of the Royal Collection of Great Britain since the reign of King George III. However, when the piece was acquired it was believed to be a work by Frans van Mieris the elder because of a misinterpretation of the signature. The painting wasn't correctly attributed to Vermeer until 1866. Some scholars are skeptical whether it was Vermeer or not.

"Truth is the daughter of time, and I feel no shame in being her midwife." (Vermeer)

Johannes, Jan or Johan Vermeer (1632 - 1675) was a Dutch painter who specialized in exquisite, domestic interior scenes of middle class life. Relatively little is known for certain about his life and career. He was the son of a silk worker with a taste for buying and selling art. Vermeer himself was also active in the art trade. His works are largely genre pieces and portraits, with the exception of two cityscapes and two allegories. His subjects offer a cross-section of seventeenth century Dutch society, ranging from the portrayal of a simple milkmaid at work, to the luxury and splendor of rich notables and merchantmen in their roomy houses. He lived and worked in Delft all his life.

Vermeer was a moderately successful provincial genre painter in his lifetime. He seems never to have been particularly wealthy, leaving his wife and children in debt at his death, perhaps because he produced relatively few paintings. His works are rare. 35 or 36 paintings are generally attributed to him. All his works are admired for the sensitivity with which he rendered effects of light and color and for the poetic quality of his images.