Coming soon to the Dallas Museum of Art is a lovely exhibition of 17th-century Dutch paintings with music in mind.
If anyone doesn’t get excited about the prospect of viewing 17th-century Dutch masterpieces, they might want to check their pulse. Opening on January 17 at the Dallas Museum of Art is an exhibition that focuses on the Dutch portrayal of musicians — a popular theme during a time when genre  paintings reigned as the most fashionable subjects.

Attrib. Dirck van Santvoort, “A Boy Playing the Flute,” oil, (c) Image via Dallas Museum of Art 2015

Centering around  a work by the master of Dutch genre  painting himself, Johannes Vermeer’s “Young Woman Seated at a Virginal” from about 1670-1672, the exhibition offers an outstanding assortment of pictures from Vermeer’s contemporaries as well. In addition to Vermeer, other artists include Jan Steen, Gerard ter Borch, Jacob Adriaensz Ochtervelt, Eglon van der Neer, Gerard Dou, and Frans van Mieris.

Gerard ter Borch, “A Musical Company,” oil, (c) Image via Dallas Museum of Art 2015

Executed late in the artist’s career, “Young Woman Seated at a Virginal” is a quintessential piece from Vermeer’s oeuvre. Brilliantly illuminated by an out-of-view light source in the upper left, a young woman pauses her concert to turn and glance at the viewer with a pensive — but warm — smile. As one would expect from Vermeer, the picture displays a slight blur and softness, but does not lack in its photographic realism. Upon initial view, the figure’s bright yellow shawl invites the viewer into the scene. If the viewer doesn’t grant that point of entry, the gaze captivates. A beautiful flash of red from the ribbon in her hair tickles the eye and adds visual interest. Finally, the satin dress, illuminated by the light, along with its reflection in the sides of the virginal, is simply breathtaking. If the exhibition featured this painting alone, it would be well worth a visit.
“Vermeer Suite: Music in 17th-Century Dutch Painting” opens on January 17 and will be on view through August 21.
To learn more, visit the Dallas Museum of Art.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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