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Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) is one of the world's most captivating artists. Rewned for his sublimely beautiful depictions of everyday Dutch life, Vermeer created exquisite paintings that are sought out by any art lover. Music was a key facet of 17th-century Dutch life, in both public and private. Of Vermeer's thirty-six surviving paintings, twelve depict musical themes or a musical instrument. These include the magnificent Young Woman Standing at a Virginal, Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, The Music Lesson, and The Guitar Player, all featured in this book. The book also includes paintings by Vermeer's contemporaries, such as Gerard ter Borch (1617-1681), Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667), and Jan Steen (c. 1626-1679). Vermeer and Music provides new insight into the cultural significance of these images. A historical overview of musical instruments and entertainment in the Dutch Republic, including the abundant publication of songbooks filled with love songs and poems, some richly illustrated, contextualizes the fascinating relationship between music and the visual arts.
Marjorie E. Wieseman is curator of Dutch paintings at the National Gallery, London.