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Johannes Vermeer, A Lady at the Virginal with a Gentleman, 'The Music Lesson', c.1662-5, RCIN 405346 ©

Dutch artists of the seventeenth century excelled in their depiction of everyday life, from the rumbustious vitality of village taverns and marketplaces, to the quiet domesticity of townhouse interiors and courtyards.

The paintings in this exhibition feature all levels of Dutch society engaged in daily activities such as the preparation of food, eating and drinking, playing games and making music together. While the subject-matter may be ordinary, the artistic mastery is extraordinary. These pictures are astonishing in their illusionism and detail. In many cases, the works carry a deeper meaning or moral messages that would have been familiar to the contemporary viewer.