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Johannes Vermeer (Delft 1632-Delft 1675)

Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman

RCIN 405346

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This seems to be a completely real interior – we can even see reflected in the mirror the easel of the artist who paints it. Neither the presence of the painter nor of us – the viewer – disturbs the two figures, who concentrate on their music-making as if we were not there. She plays and he sings; perhaps another guest is expected to pick up the cello and provide a bass line. Though there may be hints of narrative, the subject of this enigmatic painting seems to be not the figures but the space, and the light and the sound that fills it. Acquired by George III with the collection of Consul Joseph Smith in 1762 Cat. 27