Vermeer & Music: The Art of Love and Leisure

National Gallery

26 June – 8 September 2013

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

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

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.

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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 information

Opening times

Daily, 10am – 6pm (Fri, 10am – 9pm)

Closed 24 – 26 Dec and 1 Jan

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