The Joy of Museums

Finding Meaning in Art & History

The Concert

Vermeer The concert

“The Concert” by Johannes Vermeer depicts a man and two women playing music and singing. It belongs to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, but was stolen in 1990 and remains missing. It is reputed to be the most valuable unrecovered stolen painting ever, with a value estimated at over $200 million.

The young woman is sitting at a harpsichord, the man is playing a lute and a woman standing while singing. The harpsichord’s upturned lid is decorated with a landscape. A viola da gamba can be seen lying on the floor.

Vermeer painted mostly domestic interior scenes and most of his paintings are set in two rooms from his house in Delft. There is similar furniture and decorations in various arrangements in his domestic scenes and his art often portray 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. Vermeer’s works was mainly overlooked by art historians 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

As Vermeer’s reputation increased, his work has been copied and stolen which all helped to spread his reputation via the mass-media. Han van Meegeren was a 20th-century Dutch painter, who became a master forger and created and sold many new “Vermeers” before being caught and tried. In 1971, Mario Pierre Roymans, stole Vermeer’s “Love Letter” from the Fine Arts Palace in Brussels where it was on loan from the Rijksmuseum as a part of the Rembrandt and his Age exhibition. In 1990, this painting “The Concert”  was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Vermeer 'The Concert'

Announcement on stolen masterpieces from the museum.

“The Concert” is one of only 34 known works by Vermeer and was stolen in the early morning hours of March 18, 1990. Two thieves disguised as Boston police officers gained entry to the museum and stole thirteen works of art. The total worth of the stolen pieces has been estimated at $500 million, making the robbery the greatest single property theft in world history.

Empty Frames at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Empty frames remain hanging in the museum, both in homage to the missing works and as placeholders for when they are returned.

Essential Facts:

  • Title:                   The Concert
  • Artist:                 Johannes Vermeer
  • Year:                   1664
  • Type:                    Oil on canvas
  • Period:                 Dutch Golden Age
  • Dimensions:     72.5 cm × 64.7 cm (28.5 in × 25.5 in)
  • Museum:           Stolen in 1990 from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Artist Essential Facts:

  • Artist:                             Johannes Vermeer
  • Born:                              1632 – Delft, Dutch Republic
  • Died:                               1675 (aged 43) -Delft, Dutch Republic
  • Nationality:                  Dutch
  • Movement                     Dutch Golden Age, Baroque
  • Notable works:
    • The Milkmaid
    • Girl with a Pearl Earring
    • The Concert
    • The Astronomer
    • Woman with a Water Jug

~~~

“Tears come from the heart and not from the brain.” Leonardo da Vinci

~~~

_________________________________________________________________

Photo Credit: 1) Johannes Vermeer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 2) By Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 3) By Federal Bureau of Investigation [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons