Vermeer & Music: The Art of Love and Leisure

A lyrical exhibition exploring the depiction of music in 17th-century Dutch painting.

Johannes Vermeer, The Guitar Player, c. 1672 Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood House, London, © English Heritage

Johannes Vermeer, The Guitar Player, c. 1672

Through the paintings of Vermeer, De Hooch and others, this exhibition explores the musical past-times of wealthy families in 17th-century Netherlands. It reveals the intricate social signs associated with particular musical instruments and how music was intrinsic to everyday life in the Dutch Golden Age.

Exhibited alongside the paintings will be songbooks, lutes, guitars, virginals and other instruments from the era - the suggestion being that these were more than merely props for the sitter, but important social symbols indicating class, education and character. They also acted as a metaphor for the popular sentiments of the day, like harmony and chastity, revealing the significance of these ideals in the ideological constructs of the Dutch Republic.

Don't miss

Johannes Vermeer, Pieter De Hooch and Gerard ter Borch are just some of the Dutch painters featured. Pictorial gems include  The Guitar Player an elusive painting in which Vermeer blurred brush strokes to convey dreaming. Also on show are his portraits A Young Woman standing at a Virginal and A Young Woman seated at a Virginal, which are shown together for the first time. 

Venue details

National Gallery Trafalgar Square London WC2N 5DN 020 7747 2885

Entry details

£3.50 with National Art Pass (standard entry £8)


Open daily, 10am – 6pm (Fri, 10am – 9pm)

Closed 24 – 26 Dec and 1 Jan

Book online at the National Gallery website or call 0844 847 2409.

What the critics say


"Everything about these paintings, the cool light, the geometry, the sense of space and of time captured seems perfectly resolved and integrated."