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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

“A Young Woman standing at a Virginal” by Johannes Vermeer

Johannes Vermeer - Lady Standing at a Virginal - WGA24708

“A Young Woman standing at a Virginal” by Johannes Vermeer

“A Young Woman standing at a Virginal” by Johannes Vermeer depicts a richly dressed woman playing the virginal. A virginal was a keyboard instrument of the harpsichord family, which was popular in Europe during the late Renaissance to the 1700s. The setting for this composition is a home with a tiled floor, paintings on the wall, and some of the locally manufactured Delftware blue and white tiles of a type that appears in other Vermeer works.

This painting can be related to another Vermeer painting titled, “Lady Seated at a Virginal,” which is almost the same size, with which it may form a pair. Johannes Vermeer is one of the Netherlands’ most prominent Dutch painters. He painted relatively few paintings, most of which had common attributes such as the use of yellow and blue tones, the depiction of women, and domestic settings. Vermeer offered glimpses into the lives of Holland’s cultured citizens. Although little is known about Vermeer’s life, historians do know of his baptism and fragments of his life in Delft.

Johannes Vermeer

Johannes Vermeer (1632 – 1675) was a Dutch Baroque Period painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life. He was a moderately successful painter in his lifetime. However, he was not wealthy, leaving his wife and children in debt at his death.

There are only thirty-four paintings by Vermeer, and they are challenging to date. Vermeer painted mostly domestic interior scenes, and most of his pictures are set in the rooms of his house in Delft. There are similar furniture and decorations in various arrangements in his domestic scenes, and his art often portrays the same people.  He was not wealthy, as he left his family in debt after his death. He produced relatively few paintings compared to his contemporaries. Art historians mainly overlooked Vermeer’s works for several centuries after his death. However, his reputation has skyrocketed in the last few hundred years, and he is particularly renowned for his masterly treatment and use of light in his work.

A Young Woman standing at a Virginal

  • Title:            A Young Woman standing at a Virginal
  • Artist:          Johannes Vermeer
  • Year:            1670
  • Medium:     Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: Height: 51.7 cm (20.3 in); Width: 45.2 cm (17.7 in)
  • Museum:    National Gallery, London

Johannes Vermeer

Reflections

  • Did Vermeer play any musical instruments?
  • Only 34 Vermeer paintings have survived. Which is your favorite?

A Tour of The National Gallery

13th Century Paintings

14th Century Paintings

15th Century Paintings

16th Century Paintings

17th Century Paintings

18th Century Paintings

19th Century Paintings

20th Century Paintings

Explore The National Gallery

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“Without music, life would be a mistake.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche

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Photo Credit: 1) Johannes Vermeer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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