Monday 17 June 2013

Vermeer and music - sight and sound

Vermeer - The Music Lesson (c) The Royal Collection
Music seems to be important in Vermeer's paintings and the National Gallery's forthcoming exhibition Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure examines this. But they have taken things a little further than just showing us pictures of people playing music, accompanied by learned discussions. They have teamed up with the Academy of Ancient Music and AAM musicians will give performances every hour, on the hour, three days a week during the exhibition, which runs 26 June to 8 September.

There will be three major works by Vermeer on display, each of which portrays a female musician, the National Gallery's A Young Woman standing at a Virginal and A Young Woman seated at a Virginal will be joined by Vermeer’s The Guitar Player, which is on loan from Kenwood House. Vermeer’s The Music Lesson will also be on show, on loan from Her Majesty the Queen.

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.

The musical performances last 20 minutes and there are planned to be six per day. As a taster there is a Vermeer audio slide show on YouTube.

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